The older we get, the harder it is to get up and dust ourselves off after a fall. Instead, broken bones and other injuries can keep us down—right after the fall and long term. These guidelines can help keep you safe.
Make Your Home Safer
While our risks get higher with age, falls aren’t inevitable. You can lower your risks with a few steps, and most are simple, inexpensive or even free. It starts at home, where half of all falls happen.
Keep All Floors Clear
- Remove throw rugs and clutter, including papers, books and clothes.
- Tape all cords or wires next to the wall.
- Watch for thresholds and other changes in floor surface, such as from tile to carpet.
Make Sure Each Room Has Good Lighting
- Allow time for your eyes to adjust when you go from light to dark areas.
- Make sure you have a light that turns on with a light switch by each door.
- Put plug-in nightlights throughout your house, especially on the path from your bedroom to the bathroom. Nightlights that turn on automatically in the dark are best.
- Use the brightest wattage bulb recommended for each lighting fixture.
Take Care on the Stairs
- If you have handrails, use them. If not, have them installed.
- Keep stairwells well lit. It’s best to have a light switch at the top and bottom of the stairway.
- Keep your stairs free of clutter and in good repair.
Be Extra Careful in the Bathroom
- Have grab bars next to your toilet and in the tub or shower to keep you from falling. Don’t grab a towel rack or soap holder—they won’t support your weight.
- If getting up from the toilet is difficult, consider buying a raised toilet seat.
- Use a tub/shower seat on a non-slip mat when you bathe. Have a non-skid rug on the floor for when you get out of the tub or shower.
Keep Items You Use Often Within Easy Reach
- Avoid putting these items in higher cabinets.
- If you use a cell phone, keep it close by.
Stay as Active as Possible
Regular exercise helps build strength and improve your balance and coordination. Check with your doctor or physical therapist about which type of exercise is best for you.
Take Your Time
When you’re rushed or distracted you’re more likely to fall. Move slowly when you first get up from sitting or lying down.
Get Your Eyes and Ears Checked Regularly
This ensures your glasses prescription is up to date. If you have hearing problems, your doctor may recommend hearing aids. Be sure to wear both at all times.
Watch How You Walk
- Avoid shuffling your feet or walking with your feet close together.
- Be careful when you turn—quick turns can put you off balance.
- Look where you are going, not at the ground.
- Use a cane or walker if you think it might help. Talk to your physical therapist about how to use them correctly.
Choose the Right Shoes
- Choose shoes with low heels and non-slip soles.
- If you wear slippers, choose non-skid ones with a back.
- Never walk barefoot.
- Wear shoes that fit well and give you good support.
Know Your Medications
- Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you should expect any side effects and what you should do if you have them.
- Don’t stop taking medications suddenly.
- Follow the directions about how to take your medications.
- Have your health care provider review your medications regularly.
Watch What You Drink
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day. If you get dehydrated, you could become dizzy and lose your balance.
- Limit the amount of alcohol your drink.
Be Prepared for Emergencies
- Consider using a medical alert service.
- Keep a phone and emergency numbers nearby throughout the day.
*The content on this website is for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. Please consult a physician regarding your specific medical condition, diagnosis and/or treatment.