AARP Eye Center
Half of all falls happen at home, and many occur when older people are doing everyday activities — reaching for objects overhead, climbing on a stepstool or walking down the stairs.
The reasons for falls are varied: poor eyesight, weakened muscles or dizziness from medication. For many reasons, seniors often aren't as steady on their feet and lose their balance.
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What can you do to prevent falls? Carefully inspect your house — inside and out — and consider making these changes that will increase the safety of the home.
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- Install carpet with short, dense pile.
- Secure rugs with double-sided carpet tape and make thresholds even.
- Make sure electrical and extension cords are out of the way.
- Keep exits and hallways open.
- Provide bright, evenly distributed light.
- Use lampshades that reduce glare.
- Make sure light switches and electrical outlets are easy to reach.
- Use nightlights.
- Put handrails on both sides of stairways.
- Make sure steps are in good repair.
- Use non-skid contrasting tape, rubber stair treads, or coated, skid-resistant surface treatment on non-carpeted stairs in one-inch intervals. Use three long strips of tape on each step.
- Check carpeting to make sure it is firmly attached along stairs. Make immediate repairs to worn or loose carpet.
- Choose a carpet pattern that doesn't hide step edges, making it look like steps have ended when they haven't.
- Remove any rugs at the top or bottom of stairways.
- Use at least 60-watt bulbs in stairways and have on-off switches at the top and bottom of stairs.
- Get sturdy stepstools — preferably with handrails — to reach upper shelves.
- Avoid using floor wax.
- Use rubber bathmats or strips in bathtubs and showers.
- Install at least two grab bars in the bath.
- Secure bathroom rugs to the floor.
- Use raised toilet seats and/or install handrails near the toilet.
- Be sure there is adequate lighting to get safely in and out of the house.
- Install handrails along any flight of outdoor steps.
- Buy sand or salt for icy walkways.
- Keep steps, sidewalks, decks and porches clear of newspapers, and sticks, rocks, wet leaves and other debris.
- Repair broken or uneven pavement on walkways and driveways.
- Remove shrub or tree roots sticking out of the ground.