Among people 65 years and older, falls are the leading cause of injury and the most common cause of hospital admission for trauma. For males 80 and older and for females 75 and older, it is the number one cause of injury-related death. But falls can be prevented.
Begin at the front door
- The best place to start fall-proofing your home is at the front door. Vary the colors and textures on the floor at door entrances to help accentuate height differences and level changes and avoid tripping possibilities. • Create color contrasts between walls and floors; lighter-colored floor surfaces are preferable. • Minimize changes in walking surfaces, and use slip-resistant coverings such as rough tile and carpet with short, dense pile.
- Install handrails on both sides of the stairs and extend them one foot beyond the last step at both top and bottom. • With wooden or concrete steps, mark the nose of each tread with a contrasting color; use paint not tape as a marking agent. • Remove thick (3/8 inch or thicker) carpets and padding on treads. • Don't let clutter accumulate on stairways or walking paths.
- Securely install grab-bars in tub/shower units and near toilets at the height and angle best suited for your own need; tubs/showers typically require two bars positioned for support when entering and exiting. • Use bathroom rugs with nonskid backing. • Always keep a nightlight on in your bathroom. • Vary the colors in your bathroom. Having a white tub, white toilet and white walls is a big safety hazard. If everything is one color, add bright decals so edges are easily identified.
Make a living room livable
- Glass tables are especially dangerous. You may receive further injuries if you fall onto one and the glass shatters. Your best bet is a sturdy wooden table with rounded corners. • Arrange furniture to provide open pathways. • Keep electrical and telephone cords out of walkways. Don't hide them under carpeting, as that may create a fire hazard down the road. • Remove hazards. Harmless-looking items like a child's crayon or a magazine on the floor can easily cause a fall. • Avoid climbing and reaching to high cabinets or shelves, or use a sturdy step stool with handrails.
Kids can cause a tumble
Visiting children may leave toys scattered increasing the chance of an adult's fall.
When grandchildren visit, be sure they pitch in and put toys away.