Each month WebMD the Magazine puts your questions about weight loss and fitness to top exercise and motivational experts. This month, John Harvey, an 86-year-old retired physician, asked for help beginning a fitness routine. Harvey moved with his wife to a retirement community in Bethesda, Md., about a year ago. He's never been obese, but at 225 pounds he's leaning more on his cane and is unsteady on his feet. For advice, we turned to Anthony Absalon, a fitness trainer at Fox Hill Senior Living in...
Clear the clutter. Get a friend or family member to help you clear your home's walkways of anything you can trip over. Phone cords, electric wires, pet bowls, and other things can get underfoot. Move it out of the way, or consider getting rid of it.
Light it up. As you get older, you need more light to see. Make sure light switches are in easy-to-reach places, and at the bottom and top of any stairs. Turn the lights on before you get up to move around. And always know where the flashlights are in case the power goes out.
Hold the rails. If you have stairways, put handrails on both sides of them and treads on each step. Make sure you hold onto a railing when you walk up or down the stairs, and go slowly. If you have your hands full, make sure you can see each step.
Cut the skids. Use self-adhesive, non-skid mats or safety treads in bathtubs, showers, and pools. Use non-skid rugs on bathroom floors and pads under rugs on bare floors.
Grab hold. Consider getting grab bars installed on both sides of toilets and bathtubs. Put handrails in the shower and wherever necessary.
Toss the throw rugs, or make sure they're secured with double-sided tape. Over half of all falls happen at home. This simple fix can help you keep you safe.
Move it where you use it. Keep items you use often -- food, cans, dishes, clothes -- where you can reach them. This way you won't have to climb on a stool.
Wear sturdy shoes inside and outside. The footwear helps with your balance. Avoid slippers or walking barefoot.
Once your home is a safe zone, you’re likely to have less accidents. You can move around with more confidence and a renewed sense of independence. But talk to your doctor if you're having any trouble. She may refer you to an occupational therapist, who can come to your home and advise you on how to make more changes.