Preventing home falls important

Published 4:52 am Tuesday, February 10, 2009

By Staff
Carolyn Bivins
Extension Agent
Each year thousands of older Americans are injured in and around their homes due to falls. Falls that are due to hazards are easy to overlook but easy to fix.
The Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention publishes a checklist to prevent falls.  By making some changes, you can lower your chances of falling.
Four things you can do to prevent falls:
1. Begin a regular exercise program: Exercise is one of the most important ways to lower your chances of falling. It makes you stronger and helps you feel better. Exercises that improve balance and coordination (like Tai Chi) are the most helpful. Lack of exercise leads to weakness and increases your chances of falling. Ask your doctor or health care provider about the best type of exercise program for you.
2. Have your health care provider review your medicines: Have your doctor or pharmacist review all the medicines you take, even over-the-counter medicines.
As you get older, the way medicines work in your body can change. Some medicines, or combinations of medicines, can make you sleepy or dizzy and can cause you to fall.
3. Have your vision checked: Have your eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year. You may be wearing the wrong glasses or have a condition like glaucoma or cataracts that limits your vision.
Poor vision can increase your chances of falling.
4. Make your home safer: About half of all falls happen at home. To make your home safer:
Remove things you can trip over (like papers, books, clothes, and shoes) from stairs and places where you walk.
Remove small throw rugs or use double-sided tape to keep the rugs from slipping.
Keep items you use often in cabinets you can reach easily without using a step stool.
Have grab bars put in next to your toilet and in the tub or shower.
Use non-slip mats in the bathtub and on shower floors.
Improve the lighting in your home. As you get older, you need brighter lights to see well. Hang light-weight curtains or shades to reduce glare.
Have handrails and lights put in on all staircases.
Wear shoes both inside and outside the house. Avoid going barefoot or wearing slippers.
Be safe in 2009 and have a happy, blessed and prosperous new year.
For more information on the topics discussed, you may visit the following Centers for Disease Control website at Source: What you Can Do To Prevent Falls; National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.