Caregivers for seniors can find help and hope at Sowega Council on Aging.

Preventing Accidents and Falls at Home 

September is National Fall Prevention Awareness Month and with 36 million falls being reported each year for older adults, it’s an important issue. Falls can risk an older adult’s health and independence, so check out our top tips for preventing accidents and falls at home.

  • Remove scatter rugs. Small throw rugs throughout your home can be easy to get caught in and trip. Remove them wherever possible and opt for no-slip bottom rugs in the bathroom. 
  • Declutter. Too much clutter, like a stack of books or boxes can be a falling risk. Take some time, with a friend or family member if necessary, to declutter and remove unnecessary items that might pose a fall risk. 
  • Keep pathways clear. This goes along with decluttering, but other items like power cords or furniture that’s not well-placed can clog up pathways too. Think carefully about awkward areas around your home and fix cluttered pathways. 
  • Fix uneven surfaces. Your vision changes as you get older, and your depth perception may not be as good as it once was. This can cause potential falls, especially if there are uneven walkways or steps. Fix any uneven walkways, steps, or too tall room transitions to avoid falls. It’s also a good idea to have your floor a noticeably different color than your walls so surface changes are clear as well. 
  • Shine a light. Even if pathways and steps are no longer uneven, they can still be hard to navigate in the dark. Add night lights in areas you might need them (the hallway to the bathroom for example) and toe-kick or light strips on steps. You can also add motion sensor lighting outside or solar lights to illuminate outdoor pathways. 
  • Secure the bathroom. The bathroom can prevent many issues for older adults at risk of falling. You can be sure to use a non-slip rug in the bathroom, add a shower chair, and install grab bars near the shower/tub and toilet. You can also look into a higher toilet or seat extender. 
  • Step up. Steps can also pose a challenge for many at risk of falling. While you can consider adding a ramp instead of stairs, if that’s not an option, at least add railings along both sides of steps and add colorful tape or paint the edge of steps so they stand out. 
  • Take stock of furniture. When you’re trying to reduce your clutter, it’s also a good time to evaluate your furniture. Get rid of any unnecessary, bulky furniture and try to replace furniture that is often hard to get up from or difficult to get around. If you can afford it, you can also replace sharp edged furniture with pieces that have more soft, rounded edges, so your risk of injury is lower even if you fall. 
  • Check your vision. Because your vision does worsen as you age, it’s a good idea to have your vision checked regularly and update your prescription if needed or have cataracts removed. 
  • Strengthen muscles. We lose muscle strength as we get older, and our balance can be affected by medication, age, and even certain conditions like Parkinson’s disease. Both muscle weakness and reduced balance can increase your risk of falling, but exercising regularly with brisk walks, light stretches (even holding onto a chair if you’re afraid of falling), tai chi, and yoga can help with both issues and improve your overall health.