In the Spotlight
Stay on Your Feet: Take Steps to Prevent Falls
Practical things you can do in the home
Fall prevention may not seem like a lively topic, but it's an important one. Falls cause the most broken bones and are the leading cause of injury deaths among older adults. As you age, physical changes, health conditions, and sometimes the medications you take make falls more likely. There are practical things you can do to reduce your risk of falling and related injury. Engaging in regular physical activity, monitoring or avoiding certain medications, and getting your eyes checked may reduce your risk of falling.
Remember, fear of falling doesn't need to rule your life. Instead, consider these eight fall-prevention tips:
Remove small throw rugs to prevent tripping and falling. If you choose to use them, anchor them with double-sided tape or anti-slip mats underneath.
Improve the lighting in your home. As you get older, you need brighter lights to help you see well. Hang light-weight curtains or shades to reduce glare. You could use night lights or motion sensor lights for the path to the bathroom at night.
Wear shoes inside and outside the house. Avoid going barefoot or wearing slippers.
Take away things from stairs and pathways. You'll be less likely to trip if you install handrails and lights in all staircases.
Keep items you use often in cabinets that you can reach easily without using a step stool.
Install grab bars next to your toilet and in your tub or shower. Don't forget the non-slip mats in the bathtub and on shower floors. Pad sharp edges so that if you do fall injury is minimized.
Use a walker or a cane for extra support. Ask for a physical therapy evaluation to determine if you need other devices such as a walker.
Physical activity may reduce your risk of falling by increasing strength and balance. Lack of physical activity leads to weakness and increases your chances of falling.
If you want to learn more about how to prevent falls, talk with your VA health care team using Secure Messaging (sign in required) and schedule an appointment. They can also help if you have questions about making healthy living changes.
Be Safe: Prevent Falls (National Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention)
Prevent Falls and Fractures (National Institute of Aging)
Updated June 2, 2020