- Written by Scott A. Trudeau, PhD, OTR/L
- Published: 31 August 2017
More than 75% of falls take place inside or in close proximity to the home, but your home doesn’t have to be an obstacle course of potential falls. Some simple and quick changes will easily help reduce your risk of falling. Review the steps below to get started today.
- Keep steps clutter-free. Give yourself a clear path up and down by making sure things like shoes and books are put away and not left sitting on steps.
- Add strips of contrasting color to help visualize your stairs better. Adding colored tape to the edges of each step will help differentiate monochromatic steps. Pick a color of tape that will stand out against the color of the stairs. Make sure to put the tape on the top and over the edge of each step.
- Try to have lighting at the top and bottom of the stairs. Overhead lights at the top and bottom are ideal. A light switch at the top and bottom of the stairs keeps you prepared no matter which direction you’re going.
- Add a second handrail. Most staircases only have one rail, but handrails on both sides will help keep you balanced. It’s important to make sure they are both installed securely so that they will support you.
- Check your lighting, but don’t change the bulbs yourself. Good lighting is key in all areas of the home, but don’t get a chair or stepladder to change out-of-reach high bulbs. Ask your family members, friends, or neighbors when needed and consider LED bulbs to help reduce the number of times you have to address this issue. They last longer and can save you money in the long run.
- Make sure the light near the bed is easy to reach. If you have to get up in the night, you know you’re just a click away from better visibility.
- Keep the path from your bed to the bathroom clear. Make sure it is well lit and clutter free. Place nightlights along the route, so you can see where you’re walking. Some night-lights have sensors and go on by themselves after dark or in response to motion.
- Consider installing a bed rail. There are railings that fit easily between your mattress and box spring and can provide support when you are getting in and out of bed. The bed rail is also good for times when you go from lying/sitting/standing, and the change of position makes you dizzy. Having something to hold onto will keep you steady while your body adjusts.
- Move the phone within arm’s reach of your bed. You might need help in the middle of the night, so having a phone nearby is a safe option.
September 22, 2017, is National Falls Prevention Awareness Day. For three weeks in September, we will be running this article from the National Council on Aging (copyright 2016) in several installments. Learn more.
LifePath offers a free falls prevention workshop, called, “A Matter of Balance,” through the Healthy Living Program. Learn more.