Unintentional falls are a threat to the lives, independence, and health of older adults - especially those ages 65 and older. In Portage County in 2011, 64% of accidental deaths were due to falls and 88% of those individuals were age 61 or over.
Unintentional falls are a threat to the lives, independence, and health of older adults - especially those ages 65 and older. In Portage County in 2011, 64% of accidental deaths were due to falls and 88% of those individuals were age 61 or over. Nationally, every 18 seconds an older adult is treated in an emergency department for a fall, and every 35 minutes someone dies as a result of fall-related injuries. Did you know that half of all falls actually occur in our own homes, the location where we spend most of our time? Please use the following information to make your home safer and hopefully prevent a tragic fall.
Stairs and steps
- Rearrange furniture to allow a clear path. If the furniture is heavy, ask for help.
- Remove rugs or use double-sided tape or a non-slip backing so rugs won’t slip.
- Make a habit of picking up items that are on the floor so they won’t cause you to trip.
- Keep extension, appliance and telephone cords near the wall so you won’t trip over them.
- Keep a watchful eye as to where your pets are sleeping or lying down.
- Don’t store or keep items on stairs. Keep them clear of clutter.
- Make sure to fix loose or uneven steps.
- Well lit staircases are important; consider an overhead light at the top and bottom of your stairs or adding night-lights to enhance visibility.
- Consider a light switch at the top and bottom of the stairs for safety and convenience. You can get light switches that glow.
- Promptly replace burned out light bulbs.
- Make sure carpet is firmly attached to every step or remove the carpet and attach non-slip rubber treads to the stairs.
- Fix loose handrails or put in new ones. Make sure handrails are on both sides of the stairs and extend at least the length of the stairs or longer.
- Keep the items you use most often on the lower shelves.
- If you must use a step stool, get one with a bar to hold on to. Never use a chair as a step stool.
- Use a non-slip rubber mat or self-stick strips on the floor of your tub or shower.
- Consider using a bath bench or shower stool.
- Install grab bars inside your bathtub and shower and next to your toilet.
Other things you can do for yourself to keep you safe
- Have a lamp or flashlight and your glasses within easy reach of your bed.
- Use night-lights to brighten bedrooms, hallways and bathrooms. Some night-lights turn on by themselves after dark and off when it becomes light enough.
- Exercise regularly. Exercise will help make you stronger and therefore improves your balance and coordination.
- If you don’t know the medications that you are taking and their side effects ask your doctor or pharmacist. Some medicines or combinations of medicines have side effects that may make you feel weak, drowsy, dizzy or light headed, causing you to lose your balance or feel unsteady on your feet.
- Have your vision checked at least once a year by an eye doctor.
- Get up slowly after you sit or lie down.
- Wear good fitting shoes, both inside and outside the house. Try to avoid going barefoot or wearing slippers.
- Improve the lighting in your home. Put in brighter light bulbs. Florescent bulbs are bright and cost less to use.
- Uniform lighting in a room is safest. Add lighting to dark areas. Hang lightweight curtains or shades to reduce glare.
- Paint a contrasting color on the top edge of all steps so you can see the stairs better. For example, use light color paint on dark wood.
We hope you will be able to use this information to make your home safer. For additional information on falls prevention or to schedule a falls assessment please contact the Portage County Aging and Disability Resource Center at (715) 346-1401.