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Home Modifications to Prevent Falls

Many people over the age of 75 have lived in the same home for the past 20-30 years. When asked how many of them have made modifications to their homes to accommodate their needs as they age, most report that they have not. Climbing stairs, getting in and out of the bathtub, or getting objects out of a higher cupboard becomes difficult and risky as we age. However, there are very simple things that we can do to make our homes safe and accessible while decreasing the risk of falls and injuries.

Bathroom

The bathroom is one of the most treacherous rooms in our homes. They are slippery, tight rooms where most people tend to fall. Below are a few simple modifications to help make your bathroom safer:

  1. Grab bars in your shower and next to the toilet
  2. Anti-slip stickers for showers and bathtubs
  3. Raised toilet seats
  4. Shower benches

Living Room & Kitchen

Making the living room and kitchen safe for daytime activities and walking through them at night is very important. Ways to help improve your safety in these rooms include:

  1. Remove throw rugs from the middle of the room. They are pretty, but not functional or safe as we tend to catch our toes while walking. 
  2. Wear indoor shoes when you’re at home. Slippers are slippery, and sneakers allow you to have traction on carpet and linoleum flooring. This will also help prevent tracking water into your home during the winter.
  3. Move objects from high shelves and lower cabinets to more accessible areas such as low shelves, or on the counter tops. This will lessen your chances of falling off a step ladder, or when bending over to pick up heavy pots and pans.

Stairs

Stairs in and out of your home can be scary in the dark, and in treacherous weather.  Simple changes like the ones below will make them easier for you to complete:

  1. Handrails on both sides.
  2. Anti-slip stickers or putting sand in paint/stain will help increase traction between your foot and the stairs.

Additional Changes

  1. Lighting: Make sure you have a well-lit path to the bathroom for night time trips. Sufficient light in the bathroom will also help decrease your risk of falling.
  2. Assistive Devices: If your doctor/therapist encourages you to use a cane or walker, we are keeping your safety in mind. Having these devices will likely decrease your risk of falling while ambulating in the community.
  3. Communication Devices:  A cellphone or alert system is highly encouraged, especially for individuals who live alone. Make sure that if you use an alert system that it works in every room of your home. You can find this out by talking to the manufacturer of the system.

These are all changes that will help keep you safe in your home. Making even one simple change will impact your health, and will help keep you an independent individual.