Do Your Homework to Prevent Falls at Home
Most of us are spending a lot more time at home than usual these days, and that’s leading to lots of projects like decluttering and deep cleaning. Another project to consider—one that will help keep you healthy—is to make small tweaks that can prevent falls in the home.
“While common perception is that falls only happen to older populations, the truth is that anyone is susceptible, especially with increased family members in the home or changes to your daily routine,” says orthopaedic trauma surgeon Todd Swenning, MD, FAAOS, a spokesperson for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS). “The good news is that most falls can be prevented with a few simple precautions.”
The AAOS encourages you to walk through every room in your home to identify fall risks. Consider the following:
If you wear shoes in the house, make sure they’re properly tied. If you prefer socks, wear a pair with grips on the soles. Replace slippers that are stretched out or loose.
Clutter and poor lighting in a bedroom can present challenges.
- Place a lamp, telephone or flashlight near your bed.
- Sleep on a bed that is easy to get into and out of.
- Install a nightlight along the route between your bedroom and the bathroom.
- Arrange clothes in your closet so that they are easy to reach.
Thick carpets and floor clutter can be dangerous for those with balance or mobility issues.
- Arrange furniture so you have a clear pathway between rooms.
- 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.
- Do not run extension cords across pathways; instead, 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.
With children home from school and more “co-workers” in the kitchen, the likelihood for spills and trash increases.
- Immediately clean up any liquids, grease or food spilled on the floor.
- Store food, dishes and cooking equipment within easy reach.
- Do not stand on chairs, countertops or boxes to reach upper cabinets.
Ensure stairs are well lit and unobstructed.
- Keep flashlights nearby in case of a power outage.
- Keep stairs clear of packages, boxes or clutter.
- Repair loose stairway carpeting or boards immediately.
With so many slick, hard surfaces and extra moisture, the bathroom can have some dangerous conditions.
- Use a rubber mat or place nonskid adhesive textured strips inside the tub or shower.
- Keep a nightlight in the bathroom.
- Place a slip-resistant rug next to the bathtub for safe exit and entry.
- Never rush.
The AAOS notes that fall prevention at home goes beyond removing hazards. Staying physically active and consuming foods rich in calcium and Vitamin D will help keep your bones and joints healthy. Avoiding overconsumption of alcohol and being aware of side effects of medications will also help you be mindful of fatigue, balance limitations or confusion.