Preventing Falls at Home

Falls can happen at any time and place, but most non-fatal injuries are a result of a fall that could have been prevented. Most common injuries from falling include head injuries, broken wrists, shoulders, hips, or spine. The elderly are especially susceptible to complications from these injuries, which can lead to permanent disabilities or long-term hospital stays.

The hustle and bustle of the holiday season can increase the chances of taking a spill. Hanging decorations, dodging packages piled on the floor, and simply being in an unfamiliar home can all lead to accidents. You can, however, take a few easy steps to keep your house safe from falls. Taking these precautions is essential, particularly if you are elderly, have elderly people visiting your home, or have had a recent injury or surgery.

On the floors…
Make sure there is no clutter on the floors. Pick up all blankets, boxes, pillows, shoes, etc.
Make sure there are no electrical cords in walkways.
Remove all area rugs and throw rugs.
Create obvious walkways that allow an easy passage from one room to another.

In the kitchen…
Keep frequently used objects on shelves reachable.
Make sure you have a sturdy step stool for those objects that are out of reach. Standing on chairs is not safe!

In the bathroom…
Make sure to dry up any water spills.
Put a non-slip mat or rough adhesive strips on the bathtub floor. If you feel unsteady in the shower, consider getting a shower chair or grab bar installed.

On the stairs…
Clear all objects from the stairs.
Make sure there is adequate lighting on the stairs.
Handrails need to be securely attached and in place on both sides of stairway.
Make sure your carpet is securely attached on every step and at the top and bottom of the stairs.
Fix loose or uneven steps.

Exercising regularly is also a good way to prevent falls as this will help improve your strength and coordination. Many balance deficits can be easily improved by simple exercises and strength training. If you feel that you are having difficulty with balance, it is important that you contact your health care provider. Your provider can refer you to physical therapy for balance training and strengthening. For more information on fall prevention, call us at 616.997.6172, or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s focus on preventing falls.

Leave a Reply