Falls are a special concern for women and men with osteopenia -- mild thinning of the bones -- and osteoporosis, severely thin bones. When bones thin, or lose density, they can become weak to the point that they may fracture. So even a minor fall can be dangerous.
Since osteopenia and osteoporosis come with age, you may face a number of factors that contribute to falls. When determining the changes you need to make in your home, consider what health issues you have that may increase your risk for falls. Do you take medications that may increase your risk for falls? If so, talk to your doctor about adjusting your medication, if possible.
Falls are not inevitable. At least one-third of all falls among older adults involve hazards in the home. By practicing home safety, you're taking an important step toward avoiding falls due to dangers like tripping, bad lighting, unsecured throw rugs, or wobbly furniture.
The important thing is not to wait until you’ve fallen to make changes in your home environment. Try these 21 tips now to avoid falls and feel safe at home.
Preventing Falls In the Bathroom
Bathroom falls are likely to lead to serious injuries. The potential hazards in bathrooms are many: the floors get wet and slippery, getting in and out of bathtubs can be risky, there’s not much room to maneuver, and bathroom doors often open in, making it easier to get trapped if you fall.
Try the following to avoid falls in your bathroom.
1. Install grab bars. A walk-in shower is ideal, but if you don’t have one or can’t afford to install one, put in one grab bar to get into the tub and then at least one or two others for balance while bathing or showering. If you're concerned grab bars will give your home an institutional look, don't be. "Grab bars now come in all kinds of colors and materials, so you can tailor them to fit into your decor and look residential,” says Jon Pynoos, PhD, co-director of the Fall Prevention Center at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.
2. Sit to shower. If you are unsteady on your feet, consider purchasing a padded bath or shower seat with a back and nonskid leg tips so you don't have to stand to shower.
3. Make your shower less slippery. Put a nonskid mat or appliques on the shower or bath floor to counter slipperiness.
4. Raise your toilet seat. If it is difficult to get up from the toilet, install a raised seat. Grab bars next to the toilet are also a good idea.
Staying Safe on the Stairs
Stairs, like slippery bathroom floors, can lead to falls and broken bones. Try these tips to protect yourself.