As the calendar changes from summer to fall, now is the perfect time to make fall prevention a top priority. Since older adults are most likely to fall at home, improving the safety of the home environment is one of the most important steps one can take to reduce risk for falling. In fact, a robust research review of fall prevention research found home safety modification was one of the most well supported interventions available to prevent a fall.
Here are 3 steps that you can take today to improve the safety of your home or the home of a loved one:
- Install grab bars. The bathroom is one of the most frequently used rooms of the home, making it a location ripe for a fall. Couple that with the fact that bathrooms are often used at night when the lighting is poor, or after a shower when the floor is wet. Furthermore, stepping in or out of a bathtub can be an extremely challenging task for someone with decreased strength or balance. The best way to maximize safety in the bathroom is to have grab bars safely installed in 3 key areas: 1) Near the toilet, 2) Inside of the tub/shower and 3) Just outside of the tub/shower. Towel bars and other bathroom accessories SHOULD NOT be used as a substitute for a properly installed grab bar.
- Remove throw rugs. It should come as a no brainier, but throw rugs can be a huge tripping hazard in the home. It has been mentioned on this blog in a previous post, but I have to say it again: “Just say NO to the throw (rug)!”
- Add nightlights to areas commonly used at night. As we get older, our need to use the restroom during the night often increases. That means more trips to and from the bathroom in the dark and more chances to have a fall. Having a nightlight in the bathroom and along the pathway to the bathroom is vital to ensure that you are able to adequately see your environment at night.