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Prevent Falls

You can take steps to reduce your risk of falling.

Make the following changes in your home:

  • Remove raised doorway thresholds, throw rugs, and clutter.
  • Rearrange furniture and electrical cords to keep them out of walking paths.
  • Wear slippers or shoes with nonskid soles.
  • Use a cane or walker if you need one.
  • Use nonskid floor wax and wipe up spills immediately, especially on ceramic tile floors.
  • Keep stairways, porches, and outside walkways well lit. Use nightlights in hallways and bathrooms.
  • Install sturdy handrails on stairways and grab handles and nonskid mats inside and outside your shower or tub and near the toilet.
  • Use shower chairs and bath benches.
  • Add extra light switches if needed or use remote switches, such as sound-activated switches, on lights by doors and near your bed so that you will not have to get up quickly to turn on the light or walk across the room in the dark.
  • Put things within easy reach so that you do not need to reach over your head for them.
  • Repair loose carpet or raised areas in the floor that may cause you to trip.
  • Keep a cordless phone and a flashlight with new batteries by your bed.
  • If you live in an area that gets snow and ice in the winter, have a family member or friend sprinkle salt or sand on slippery steps and sidewalks.

Take the following health measures:

  • Exercise regularly. Regular exercise improves your strength, muscle tone, and sense of balance, which help prevent falls.
  • Have your vision and hearing checked regularly. If you have poor vision and hearing, you may lose important cues that help you keep your balance.
  • Know the side effects of medications you are taking:
    • Ask your doctor or pharmacist whether the medicines you are taking can affect your balance.
    • Don't take sleeping pills or sedatives that can affect your balance.
  • Call your doctor for an appointment if you are dizzy and lose your balance. You may have a condition that needs treatment, such as an inner ear problem.
  • Check the condition of your feet on a regular basis. Wear shoes that fit well and give your feet good support. Call your doctor if you think you have corns or calluses on your feet that need to be removed. Corns, calluses, and loose-fitting shoes can cause you to lose your balance and fall.
By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
Last Revised January 12, 2011

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: January 12, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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