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Aging Well: Making Your Home Fall-Proof
Getting around your home safely can be a challenge if you have injuries or health problems that make it easy for you to fall. Loose rugs and furniture in walkways are among the dangers for many older people who have problems walking or who have poor eyesight. People who have conditions such as arthritis, osteoporosis, or dementia also have to be careful not to fall.
You can make your home safer with a few simple measures.
How can you make your home fall-proof?
Making your home safer
As you get older, getting around your home safely and avoiding falls can be a challenge. But there are easy things you can do to make your home a lot safer.
- Keep walking paths clear.
- Remove things that you can trip over, such as raised doorway thresholds, throw rugs, and clutter.
- Repair loose carpet or raised areas in the floor.
- Move furniture and electrical cords out of the way.
- Use nonskid floor wax, and wipe up spills right away.
- Keep your house well lit.
- Use night-lights (or keep the overhead light on at night) in areas such as hallways and bathrooms.
- Add extra light switches or use remote switches (such as switches that go on or off when you clap your hands) to make it easier to turn lights on if you have to get up during the night.
- Keep a flashlight by your bed.
- Keep stairways safe.
- Put sturdy handrails on stairways.
- Make sure you have a light at the top and bottom of the stairs.
- Don't leave items on the steps.
- Fix loose, broken, or uneven steps.
- Mark the areas around stairways and ramps with paint or tape, preferably with a high-contrast color.
- Carry a phone or medical alert device with you.
Then you can quickly call for help if you need it.
- Train your pets not to jump or get underfoot.
- If you have pets, keep them in one place at night.
- Think about buying a collar with a bell for your pet so you will know when your pet is nearby.
Reducing risks of falls during daily activities
You can make some simple changes in the way you do some daily activities to reduce your risk of falling.
- Store items within easy reach.
Put household items on lower shelves so that you don't have to climb or reach high. Or use a reaching device that you can buy at a medical supply store. If you have to climb for something, use a step stool with handrails.
- Don't try to carry too many things at the same time.
Have a place near your door where you can place packages and groceries while you close the door and get ready to put things away.
- Get up slowly from your bed or chair.
If you tend to feel lightheaded when you stand up quickly, it may help to sit up first and count slowly to 10 before you try to stand up. And after you stand up, stay still for a few seconds before you move.
- Don't try to walk around if you're very weak or dizzy or feel unsteady.
Instead, call or see your doctor as soon as you can. You may have a health problem that needs treatment, such as a blood pressure or inner ear problem. Or you may be having a side effect from a medicine that you take.
- Have your vision and hearing checked each year, or anytime you notice a change.
If you have trouble seeing and hearing, you might not be able to avoid objects that make you lose your balance.
- Wear low-heeled shoes that fit well and that give your feet good support.
- Use footwear with nonskid soles.
- Check the heels and soles of your shoes for wear. Repair or replace worn heels or soles.
- Avoid wearing slippers that are loose or that don't cover your whole foot.
- Call your doctor if you have calluses or corns on your feet that need to be removed or if you have sores that don't heal. If you wear loose-fitting shoes because of foot problems, you can lose your balance and fall.
- Don't wear socks without shoes on smooth floors.
- Learn some strength and balance exercises.
Practicing these each day can help you to stay active, keep your balance, and be independent. Ask your doctor or a physical therapist what exercises are safe for you to do.
- Make sure that a walker or cane is fitted to you.
- If you use a walker or cane, put rubber tips on it. Replace the rubber tip when it becomes worn.
- If you use crutches, clean the bottoms of them regularly with an abrasive pad, such as steel wool.
Reducing risks of falls when bathing
You can make some simple changes in your bathroom to reduce your risk of falling.
- Install grab handles.
Put grab bars in your shower or tub and near the toilet.
- Use nonskid mats in your shower or tub.
- Use a shower chair or bath bench.
- Use a hand-held shower head to help with bathing.
You can also try using a long-handled brush or mittens.
- Get into a tub or shower by putting your weaker leg in first.
Get out of a tub or shower with your strong side first.
- Take a phone into the bathroom, or wear a medical alert device.
Then you can quickly call for help if you need it.
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