Simple home modifications to prevent falls
The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons has an informative guide to help seniors and caregivers make simple home modifications that can greatly reduce the risk of falls. Check out their recommendations below for each room in your home:
- Place a lamp, telephone, or flashlight near your bed.
- Sleep on a bed that is easy to get into and out of.
- Replace satiny sheets and comforters with products made of nonslippery material such as wool or cotton.
- Arrange clothes in your closet so that they are easy to reach.
- Install a nightlight along the route between your bedroom and the bathroom.
- Keep clutter off the bedroom floor.
- Arrange furniture so you have a clear pathway between rooms.
- Keep low-rise coffee tables, magazine racks, footrests, and plants out of the path of traffic.
- Install easy-access light switches at room entrances so you will not have to walk into a dark room in order to turn on the light. Glow-in-the-dark switches also may be helpful.
- Walk only in well-lit rooms, stairs, and halls.
- Do not store boxes near doorways or in hallways.
- Remove newspapers and all clutter from pathways.
- Keep electric, appliance and telephone cords out of walkways, but do not put cords under a rug.
- Do not run extension cords across pathways; rearrange furniture.
- Secure loose area rugs with double-faced tape, tacks, or slip-resistant backing.
- Do not sit in a chair or on a sofa that is so low that it is difficult to stand up.
- Repair loose wooden floorboards right away.
- Remove door sills higher than a half inch.
- Remove throw rugs.
- Clean up immediately any liquids, grease, or food spilled on the floor.
- Store food, dishes, and cooking equipment within easy reach.
- Do not stand on chairs or boxes to reach upper cabinets.
- Use nonskid floor wax.
- Keep stairs clear of packages, boxes, or clutter
- Light switches should be at the top and bottom of the stairs. Or, consider installing motion-detector lights which turn on automatically when someone walks by.
- Provide enough light to clearly see each stair and the top and bottom landings.
- Keep flashlights nearby in case of a power outage.
- Remove loose area rugs from the bottom or top of the stairs.
- Replace patterned, dark, or deep-pile carpeting with a solid color, which will show the edges of steps more clearly.
- Put non-slip treads on each bare-wood step.
- Install handrails on both sides of the stairway. Each should be 30 inches above the stairs and extend the full length of the stairs.
- Repair loose stairway carpeting or wooden boards immediately.
- Place a slip-resistant rug adjacent to the bathtub for safe exit and entry.
- Mount a liquid soap dispenser on the bathtub/shower wall.
- Install grab bars on the bathroom walls.
- Keep a nightlight in the bathroom.
- Use a rubber mat or place nonskid adhesive textured strips inside the tub.
- Replace glass shower enclosures with non-shattering material.
- Stabilize yourself on the toilet by using either a raised seat or a special toilet seat with armrests.
- Use a sturdy, plastic seat in the bathtub if you cannot lower yourself to the floor of the tub or if you are unsteady.
When family or friends are at risk of falls, prevention only goes so far. Having a medical alert service can alert the emergency services and family members, in case a fall does occur.
For more information on fall prevention, please read our 3 fall-related risks after orthopedic surgery post.