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Stay on Your Feet

Falls are a major cause of accidents for older adults. One-third of people age 65 and older fall each year. About half of all falls are related to hazards such as slippery or uneven surfaces. And most falls occur in the home.

A study of falls conducted by Washington University in St. Louis and OASIS found the following to be the most common causes of falls around the home.

  • Tripping over items left in the way
  • Missing the last step on stairs
  • Tripping on doorsills
  • Slipping in the bathroom
  • Tripping on uneven sidewalks
  • Not using the handrail on stairs

Make Your Home a Tumble-Free Zone
Simple changes in your home can prevent many falls and injuries. To make your home as safe as possible, use the following checklist to do your own safety inspection. Then make a plan to correct any safety hazards so that you can avoid falling, and stay on your feet!

Floors

  • Secure your rugs. Throw rugs should have a non-skid back or be taped down with double-sided carpet tape.
  • Phone and electrical cords should be out of walking paths.
  • Avoid carpet with thick or uneven pile.
  • Keep walking paths through rooms clear of clutter.
  • Clean up spills right away.

Stairs

  • Light switches should be at both the top and bottom of stairs.
  • Install hand rails, ideally on both sides of the stairs.
  • Top and bottom steps must be easy to see. You can make them more noticeable with a contrasting color of carpet, a strip of carpet tape or paint.
  • Don't store items on the stairs.
  • Develop a plan to get items up and down the steps, such as using a basket, which will allow the use of handrails.

Bathroom

  • Install grab rails in the tub, shower and around the toilet.
  • The tub and shower should have a non-skid surface, decals or no-slip mats.
  • Consider installing a shower chair and hand-held shower.

General

  • All room entrances should have accessible light switches.
  • Avoid glare and shadow, especially on uneven surfaces.
  • Store items where you can easily reach them without having to bend over or reach up.
  • Avoid using step stools.
  • Avoid furniture that is low, has wheels or tips easily.
  • Place nightlights along routes between bedrooms and bathrooms.
  • Position the telephone so that you don't have to hurry to answer a ringing phone. Get an answering machine so no call will be missed.

If you have experienced a fall, or if you have trouble with your balance, walking or dizziness see your doctor for a review of your medications, physical condition, and vision. Your doctor can evaluate your condition and work with you to develop a plan to help you avoid a fall.

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