prevent falls at home

Falls are a big concern for many elderly seniors and their families. Each year, more than   one in four older Americans fall, making it the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries for those age 65 and older. But many falls can be prevented. Depending on what’s causing the fall, here are some things to consider:

Weak leg muscles and poor balance are two of the biggest risk factors that cause older adults to fall. Walking, strength training and tai chi are all good for improving balance and strength, as are a number of balance exercises, like standing on one foot for 30 seconds then switching to the other foot, and walking heel-to-toe across the room.

(For additional balance and leg strengthening exercises, see the National Institute on Aging’s Exercise and Physical Activity website at

Be aware of any medications or combination of medicines that cause you to become dizzy, sleepy or lightheaded. If any do, contact your doctor or pharmacist for a drug review and adjustment.

Poor vision can be another contributor to falls, so get your eyes checked every year and replace your eyeglasses as needed. Also, be aware that bifocals or progressive lenses can be a hazard, especially when walking outside or going down steps. These lenses can affect depth perception, so consider getting a pair of glasses with only your distance prescription for outdoor activities.

There are a number of simple household modifications you can do to make your living area safer. Start by arranging or moving the furniture to create clear pathways. Pick up items on the floor that may cause tripping, like newspapers, shoes, clothing, and electrical or phone cords.

If you have throw rugs, remove them or use double-sided tape to secure them.
In the bathroom, place non-skid rugs on the floor and a rubber suction-grip mat or adhesive non-skid tape for the floor of the tub or shower. Also, install grab bars in and around the tub/shower for support.

Make sure the lighting throughout your home is good; purchase some plug-in nightlights for the bathrooms and hallways.

If you have stairs, put hand rails on both sides.

(For more tips, see the NIA Fall-Proofing Your Home web page at

Going barefoot or wearing slippers or socks at home can also cause falls, as can wearing backless shoes, high heels, and shoes with smooth leather soles. The safest option is rubber-sole, low-heel shoes.

For extra peace of mind, get a wearable medical alert device that comes with an emergency button so if that fall does happen, you can get the needed assistance.

Latest posts by Jim Miller (see all)