Fall Prevention: Stay Safe at Home

A few fix-ups can help you stay put and stay independent

Published online: Oct 05, 2020 Articles, East Idaho Health Michael Brandes, Bingham Healthcare Orthopedics & Sports Medicine
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There’s no place like home, especially if you want to stay safe and healthy while living there. Doing so can be as simple as giving your house a once-over to check for potential hazards. A few inexpensive—or even free—modifications will make your home safer and more comfortable for you, and head off debilitating accidents that could impair your lifestyle down the road.

Use this list to check for possible improvements to make around your home:

Fall Prevention

  • Install handrails on all stairways and steps.
  • Provide bright lighting in every room and on stairways.
  • Remove electrical and phone cords from pathways, along with any other clutter.
  • Tape small rugs to the floor or avoid using them altogether.
  • Install non-skid adhesive strips or mats in bathtubs and showers, and use non-skid mats on the bathroom floor.
  • If needed, install grab bars in the shower and around toilets.

Fall Prevention Basics

Anyone who has fallen knows it can be scary and sometimes painful. For the elderly, a fall is more than that: It can take away their ability to function on their own. It can even be deadly. 

One in three older Americans falls each year, and every 18 seconds an older adult is treated in an emergency room for falling-related injuries. The elderly and people with serious illnesses have certain risk factors for falling. Their eyesight, balance and strength aren’t as good as they once were. Their medications may make them weak or dizzy or blur their vision. Pain may cause them to move in an awkward or unsteady way.

But falls don’t have to happen. There are many things you can do to help prevent accidents. Small changes in the surroundings can make a huge difference.

Here’s a short list of potential safety hazards. Think of them as falls waiting to happen. Correct as many as you can. (Some fixes may require the work of a handyman.) 

Lighting: Are hallways, stairs and other traffic areas well-lit? Replace any dim or burned-out bulbs. Use nightlights.

Pathways: Are traffic areas clear? Remove obstacles, including furniture, electrical cords, loose rugs and any clutter.

Handrails: Are there hand railings on both sides of stairways, and grab bars by the bathtub/shower and toilet?

Slippery areas: On stairs, use non-skid treads; mark edges with reflective tape. On smooth floors, use double-sided tape under area rugs; avoid waxes. In bathtubs, use non-skid strips.

Store often-used items at waist level.

Use caution if you have pets: House pets are a frequent cause of falls. Prod the floor before stepping down and gently nudge Fido or Princess Sophia Kitty out of the way.

Bingham Healthcare Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Team

As the largest team of orthopedic surgeons and sports medicine specialists in eastern Idaho, Bingham’s specialists are experts in diagnosing and treating, either surgically or medically, injuries and diseases of the bones, joints, spine, and muscles. This also includes arthritis and other painful disorders or injuries that involve the ligaments and other supporting structures. 

They see patients in Idaho Falls, Blackfoot, Pocatello and Soda Springs. 

For more information about any of Bingham’s orthopedic surgeons and sports medicine specialists, call 208-785-4100 or visit: www.BinghamMemorial.org/Orthopedics.

Click here to read more of the November issue.

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