Wednesday, September 08, 1999
How to reduce risk
More people fall at home than any other location, yet common risk factors and safety hazards for falling can be eliminated or reduced by installing products, adopting new habits or keeping the body in good physical shape.
Among the tips recommended by experts to reduce the risk of falling:
Tack down loose carpets and rugs. Make sure floor surfaces are smooth, with no jagged edges, loose tiles, loose toe stripping, etc. For area rugs, install non-slip backing or rubber mats underneath.
Install handrails on stairways (both sides, if possible). Never leave clutter on stairs.
Always wear low-heeled shoes with non-skid soles.
Install safety bars/grab bars next to toilets and in showers/bathtubs. Put no-skid strips on bathtub and shower floors. Be extra careful on wet surfaces.
Make sure rooms are brightly lit. Use night lights in hallways, bedrooms, bathrooms and commonly traveled areas. Keep a flashlight next to the bed.
Exercise regularly to keep muscles strong and to enhance balance.
Keep pathways through the house or apartment free of clutter, including rugs, extension cords, electrical cords, lamps, phone wires, computer lines, plants, magazine racks, low tables, etc. Remove anything that could trigger someone to stumble, trip or fall.
Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about medicines that can cause side effects such as dizziness, drowsiness, lack of attention, stumbling, balance problems and slow reaction time. Make sure your doctor or pharmacist is aware of everything you take, including supplements, vitamins, minerals, herbs, over-the-counter products and prescription drugs.
Have your hearing and vision tested regularly, and wear glasses as much as possible.
Quit smoking and reduce alcohol consumption, both of which can weaken bones and increase a person's risk of injury from falling.
Source: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
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