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How to Prevent Falls at Home

Falling and hurting yourself is a common mishap at home, especially with the elderly. Besides grievous injury, resulting fractures can contribute to disability, infection, lack of mobility and loss of independence. Here are some simple ways to avoid accidents at home.

Get periodic physical health check-ups to ascertain vision, hearing and motor movement tests to ensure safety. Any problem should get appropriate medical attention. Medication records should be reviewed regularly with your doctor. Inform immediately if your medication makes you dizzy or lightheaded.

Installing proper lighting throughout your home is a must. Pay special attention to stairs and bathrooms that have light switches working from both ends. Use night-lights in the hallways, particularly between the bedroom, bathroom and kitchen.

Keep floors and stairs absolutely free of clutter. Avoid the use of scatter rugs as they may cause tripping, especially if you have elderly people or kids around. Remove footstools and ottomans from traffic areas as well.

Ensure that staircases and decks have proper handrails and that they are securely fixed and in good order. Check that steps are in good repair and are slip-resistant. You should also make sure all broken or rotted stairs are fixed promptly. Add a strip along the edge of each step in a contrasting color to make it easier to see or use reflective anti-skid treads.

You also need to take the same precaution with your outdoor steps. As part of that, make sure you take the necessary measures to have leaves, snow and ice removed on a regular basis. Use salt or sand throughout the winter months. Furthermore, wearing proper footwear will help you maintain a higher degree of safety. Shoes, boots and slippers should provide good support and have good soles. Other elements that will help you while walking are items such as a cane or walker; check that it is the proper height for you before using. For added safety, try installing stainless steel prongs on canes for safe walking in the winter.

Install grab-bars in bathrooms; by the toilet and in the bathtub or shower. For extra support, consider a bath seat so you can shower sitting down and minimize your chances of falling. Use a rubber mat along the full length of your tub and a non-skid bath mat beside the tub.

In the kitchen, store frequently-used items such as food and utensils at a convenient height. Avoid climbing or reaching for high shelves, and don't stand on stepladders or chairs. You should also avoid using floor polish or wax. This will help you reduce slick surfaces on the floor and the risk of slipping and falling. An additional practice that will help you prevent slips is cleaning up spills as soon as they happen.

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