Here are ten recommendations from AARP to lower your risk of a fall in your home.
Remove Scatter Rugs
Remove throw rugs throughout the home that are easy to trip over. If you must have a rug in the bathroom, make sure it has a no-slip bottom.
“When you’ve lived in a place for a number of years you can collect a lot of clutter, and that can become a fall risk,” Zavala says. Remove items, such as stacks of books or boxes on the floor, that you may trip over or that can cause harm if you fall.
Keep Pathways Clear
Clear pathways of trip hazards — such as clutter, power cords or extra furniture — so that it’s easier to move around. This includes hallways as well as the route around your bed to the door. Get electrical cords with flat plugs or place rubber strips over cords.
Fix Uneven Surfaces
As people age, vision changes may mean their depth perception isn’t as good as before, and they may not see the details of walking surfaces. Fix uneven walkways and steps inside and outside the home to help prevent falls. Consider adding a contrast color to floors, such as a colorful carpet on a hardwood floor instead of beige, so any surface changes are clear.
Shine a Light
Good lighting is important to illuminate pathways and surfaces inside and outside the home. Open curtains or blinds to let in natural light. Add extra lighting, such as night-lights in hallways and toe-kick lights or light strips on steps, where needed. Consider motion-sensor lighting inside or outside for ease of use.
Secure the Bathroom
Install a higher toilet or a seat extender, which are better for people with arthritis or knee problems. Other fall-prevention changes include using nonslip rugs, adding a shower chair, and installing grab bars near the shower, tub, and toilet. “Design companies have become hip to this,” Zavala notes. “Now there are absolutely gorgeous grab bars that come in colors and with prettier finishes or decorative elements.”
Add a railing along stairs — or on both sides of steps — to help navigate inside or outside your home. Attach blue packing or painter’s tape to the edge of steps so they stand out. Consider building a ramp — instead of steps — that leads to the front or back door.
Take Stock of Furniture
Decrease the amount of furniture throughout your home so there are fewer obstacles. If you can afford it, replace sharp-edged furniture with pieces that have soft, rounded edges to reduce the risk of injury should you fall.
Check Your Vision
Since poor eyesight can lead to falls, older adults should get an eye exam once a year. You may need glasses, have an age-related condition like cataracts or need to update your eyeglass prescription. Cataracts can be removed, and Medicare typically covers the procedure.
Age-related muscle weakness and deteriorating balance also can contribute to falls. Take brisk walks for 30 minutes three times a week to strengthen your leg muscles, Daniel suggests. Before walking, do some light stretches, such as easy bends and knee flexes while holding onto a chair. Exercises like tai chi and gentle yoga can help improve your balance.