Thousands of Americans over age 65 fall every year at home, so fall prevention is important. Many seniors are seriously injured, some are disabled, some die. In fact, in 2002 more than 12,000 older Americans died and 1.6 million had to be treated in the ER as the result of a fall at home. The cost of these falls is enormous – in dollars and in pain. You can evaluate your home for hazards that can be easily removed. Use this checklist, modeled on the fall prevention checklist of the CDC
Checklist for Fall Prevention
Do you have to walk around furniture?
Move it or have it move to make a 3 foot wide path to walk through.
Do you have throw rugs?
It’s best to remove them. If you don’t want to do that, tape them down or buy rugs with a non-slip backing
Is there “stuff” on the floor?
Shoes, cat toys, dog balls, books and other loose objects are tripping hazards. Pick them up and put them away when you are done using them.
Are there wires and cords in the way?
Coil them up or tape them down.
Is the lighting good?
Replace burned out light bulbs, add lamps/fixtures to improve lighting.
How is the carpet?
Have it replaced or repaired if it is loose.
Are the handrails loose or absent?
Repair loose or broken handrails. It’s best if there are handrails on both sides of the stairs
Rearrange shelves so the things you use most are on the shelves that are easiest to reach.
Use a steady stepstool with handrails if you need help reaching high items. Don’t use a chair- that’s a disaster waiting to happen.
Slippery tub or shower floor?
Use non-slip mats or self-stick strips. Clean or have cleaned the tub to remove slippery soap residue
Unsteady or weak legs?
Have sturdy grab bars installed in the tub/shower and near the toilet, not the suction cup style.
Can you easily reach the bedside lamp, alarm clock and TV remote?
You don’t want to fall out of bed while reaching or trip in the dark. Install nightlights so you can easily find your way to the bathroom at night.
Have your vision checked and replace your glasses when necessary
Put in brighter light bulbs. Using dim bulbs to save money on electricity is false economy. Compare the cost of a hip fracture from tripping in the dark.
Exercise to strengthen your back, hips and legs to make stair climbing easier. There are many videos on YouTube specifically designed for seniors.
Discuss your medications with your doctor to see if any may cause sleepiness or dizziness and come up with a plan to prevent falls
Put emergency numbers where you can see them
Make sure your phone is always where you can reach it.
Consider a medical alert device in case you fall and can’t get up.