Our home is no longer just a place to live, sleep, and eat—it has also become our office, gym, yoga studio, school, playground, and everything in between. As a result, adults of all ages—especially older adults—now spend considerably more time at home. Just as we child-proof rooms when a toddler begins to roam, it is important to consider measures to prevent falls from older members of our household, too.
What’s the risk of falling?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one out of four people over the age of 65 will fall every year.
Once a fall occurs, additional problems often arise. To begin, after just one fall, a person’s chances of falling again doubles. Falls are not only the number one cause of injury in seniors—commonly resulting in hip fractures and head injuries—they are also the number one cause of death from an injury in this age group. As the population ages, the number of falls is predicted to continue rising (CDC, 2017).
Five ways to reduce falls at home
Creating a safe environment at home is key to reducing fall risk. The good news is you don’t need an expensive remodel to achieve safety—simple changes can make a huge impact. Try these tips to help keep you and your loved ones safe:
Remove the clutter
One of the easiest ways to avoid a fall in the home is to remove the clutter. Keep floors free from magazines, loose cords, toys, and other small objects.
Light it up
Use adequate lighting in each room in your home. Be sure to properly illuminate stairways and hallways to immediately improve safety.
Toss the throw rugs
While they provide a decorative touch, throw rugs can be a major fall hazard in most homes. These rugs can easily move or wrinkle, creating a tripping obstacle. The best approach? Eliminate all throw rugs. If you cannot bring yourself to part with a beloved rug, anchor it securely at each end and use non-skid padding underneath to help prevent accidents.
Break the bathroom fall trend
With frequently slippery floors from bathing, the bathroom is one of the biggest culprits for hidden fall risks. Consider installing grab bars in the shower or next to the toilet to assist with transitions in and out of slick showers or tubs. Many people rely on a towel rack for support—a huge gamble that will likely end in a fall. No matter how strong the installation, a towel rack is not designed to support body weight and it will break if used repeatedly as a grab bar.
Start from the ground up
To further bolster safety, wear proper shoes, or socks with grips, while at home. Additionally, ditch loose clothing that can bunch up or drag on the ground.
Take a comprehensive approach
Falling in the home is a common occurrence that can be easily avoided. Taking the time now to make small changes can save time, money, and heartache in the future. In addition to improving your home environment, working with a physical therapist to improve strength and balance can further reduce fall risk. Talk to your Vori Health PT to learn about personalized fall prevention strategies for you and your loved ones.