Falls in the house aren’t just a product of aging. They can occur for a variety of reasons like physical changes due to a health condition, injury, or getting used to a new medication.
Regardless of the cause, the fear of falling shouldn’t limit you from moving around your home independently. If you or a loved one is at a heightened risk for falls in the house, you can take some preventive steps to make the home more safely navigable.
Preventing falls in the bathroom
Bathroom falls can occur while someone is getting in or out of the tub, sitting on and standing up from the toilet, or walking across a wet floor to grab a towel. That said, you can make a few simple additions to the bathroom that will help minimize the risk for falling.
The bathroom the most common part of the house for slips and falls.
Install a grab bar
Shower chairs and transfer benches
Nonslip shower mats
Declutter the house
Perhaps the easiest step to reduce the risk of falls in the house is to keep things tidy, especially on the floor. If you have kids or pets in the house, keep an eye on their toys to make sure they aren’t strewn about in places that could lead to falls. Look to clean up boxes, newspapers, and unnecessary cords from highly trafficked areas in the house. It’s especially important to declutter around hallways and staircases, where falls are particularly common.
Improving lighting to prevent falls in the home
Lighting is an often overlooked contributor to indoor falls. Especially around stairs and narrow hallways, you want to ensure the lighting is adequate and consistent from room to room. But it’s also important to note that brighter isn’t always necessarily better. Instead, focus on creating lighting that is consistent in both brightness and color temperature. Take a look at how smart lightbulbs can improve lighting throughout your home.
Get a medical alert system
If your family member or loved one is at risk of falling, consider getting them a medical alert system. Traditionally these devices rely on buttons that call for help, but nowadays there is a number of medical alert devices that will automatically sensor falls and trigger alerts. Should a fall occur despite your preventive efforts, these devices can greatly increase response times, either by you or by an emergency response team alerted to the fall.
Invest in the right shoes
Footwear is another commonly overlooked factor when trying to prevent falls. The right shoes will fit comfortably enough to provide all-day support and will offer a little more traction than walking around the house barefoot. Here are some footwear characteristics that can help decrease fall risk for your loved ones living at home:
- Ample support around the ankle
- Rigid rubber sole that grips well on any kind of surface
- Hook-and-loop fasteners to ensure a good fit
- Heels elevated no more than one inch off the ground
Use a cane or walker
Try tai chi or balance exercises
Many aging adults use Tai chi to improve balance, confidence, and muscular strength, all of which can greatly reduce the risk for falls in everyday life. Preparing the house for fall prevention is important, but building that strength and confidence is one of the most important preventive measures. Look for tai chi classes available in your area, but don’t shy away from any exercise that can improve balance and help mitigate the risks of falling in the house.
Prevention is key
By following the steps above, you can greatly reduce the risk of falls in the house for you or your loved one. A proactive approach to fall prevention in addition to a medical alert system can make living at home much safer for those at risk of falling.
What have you done to fall-proof your home? We’d love for you to leave a comment below with your tips and recommendations.