Make an appointment with your doctor:
Begin your fall-prevention plan by making an appointment with your doctor. Be prepared to answer questions such as:
- What medications are you taking?
- Have you fallen before?
- Could your health conditions cause a fall?
Physical activity can go a long way toward fall prevention. With your doctor's OK, consider activities such as walking, water workouts or tai chi - a gentle exercise that involves slow and graceful dance-like movements. Such activities reduce the risk of falls by improving strength, balance, coordination and flexibility.
If you avoid physical activity because you're afraid it will make a fall more likely, tell your doctor. He or she may recommend carefully monitored exercise programs or refer you to a physical therapist. The physical therapist can create a custom exercise program aimed at improving your balance, flexibility, muscle strength and gait.
Wear Sensible Shoes
Consider changing your footwear as part of your fall-prevention plan. High heels, floppy slippers and shoes with slick soles can make you slip, stumble and fall. So can walking in your stocking feet.
- Have your feet measured each time you buy shoes, since foot size can change.
- Buy properly fitting, sturdy shoes with nonskid soles.
- Avoid shoes with extra-thick soles.
- Choose lace-up shoes instead of slip-ons, and keep the laces tied. If you have trouble tying laces, select footwear with fabric fasteners.
- If you're a woman who can't find wide enough shoes, try men's shoes
Remove home hazards
Take a look around your home. Your living room, kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, hallways and stairways may be filled with hazards.
To make your home safer:
- Remove boxes, newspapers, electrical cords and phone cords from walkways.
- Move coffee tables, magazine racks and plant stands from high-traffic areas.
- Secure loose rugs with double-faced tape, tacks or a slip-resistant backing - or remove loose rugs from your home.
- Repair loose, wooden floorboards and carpeting right away.
- Store clothing, dishes, food and other necessities within easy reach.
- Immediately clean spilled liquids, grease or food.
- Use nonskid floor wax.
- Use nonslip mats in your bathtub or shower.
Light Up your Living Space
Keep your home brightly lit to avoid tripping on objects that are hard to see.
- Place night lights in your bedroom, bathroom and hallways.
- Place a lamp within reach of your bed for middle-of-the-night needs.
- Make clear paths to light switches that aren't near room entrances. Consider trading traditional switches for glow-in-the-dark or illuminated switches.
- Turn on the lights before going up or down stairs.
- Store flashlights in easy-to-find places in case of power outages.
Use assistive devices
Your doctor might recommend using a cane or walker to keep you steady. Other assistive devices can help, too.
- Hand rails for both sides of stairways
- Nonslip treads for bare-wood steps
- A raised toilet seat or one with armrests
- Grab bars for the shower or tub
- A sturdy plastic seat for the shower or tub - plus a hand-held shower nozzle for bathing while sitting down
Are you at risk of falling?
Take the Fall Prevention Self Assessment
- Do you take 4 or more medications daily?
- Have you fallen in the past year?
- Do you wear flobby slippers or a long bathrobe?
- Do you have trouble getting in and out of the bathtub?
- Do you have trouble walking without holding onto something?
- Do you have trouble getting in and out of a chair?
- Do you have trouble with your balance?
- Do you have throw rugs?
- Do you have stairs (inside or outside) without rails?
- Do you have clutter in your walking space?
- Do you have trouble seeing pathways or pets?
- Are you afraid of falling?
If you checked any of the boxes above, please review the falls prevention checklist with your physician and a friend or family member to identify and correct specific problems that may lead to a fall.