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Prevent Falls at Home

Elderly man who has fallen

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one out of every four older adults experiences a fall each year, but less than half tell their provider. Here are eight ways to prevent household falls:

  • Watch out for pets. “Pets are one of the biggest causes of household falls,” says Heidi J. Hunter, MD, physical medicine and rehabilitation physician at Saint Francis. “If your pets are becoming a problem, enroll them in an obedience training course. You should also watch out for their toys, which can be a major tripping hazard.”
  • Clear up your clutter. Household clutter and rugs can also cause falls. Older adults should keep their living areas as open as possible and rug-free. Get rid of things you could trip over.
  • Exercise. An exercise routine can help you increase your leg strength and improve your balance. “If you do not already exercise, start small,” advises Hunter. “But when those exercises become easier for you, be sure to increase the difficulty level.” Do exercises that make your legs stronger and improve your balance.
  • Check your prescriptions. Work with your doctor to find medications that do not cause dizziness or drowsiness. Often, these side effects can occur suddenly, causing you to take a hard fall.
  • Install grab bars. These bars are beneficial inside and outside the bathtub and next to the toilet. “The bathroom is one of the most hazardous areas of the home for older adults,” says Hunter. “Make sure you use a bathtub mat when you are showering or taking a bath.”
  • Turn on the lights. It would be best to have bright lights at the top and bottom of the stairs. Ensure that you can turn on a light when you enter a room, so you do not have to cross in the dark.
  • Check your eyes. See your optometrist at least once a year to check your prescription.
  • Install railings. Put railings on both sides of the stairs.

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