How to Prevent Falls with Home Safety Modifications

Older adults can prevent falls and continue living safely at home by making a few modifications, writes Emily Nabors of the Fall Prevention Center of Excellence.

Editor’s note: this article first appeared on the National Council on Aging website. Author Emily Nabors is the Program Manager at the Fall Prevention Center of Excellence at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology.

Many older adults choose to continue living at home as they age. However, their homes may not be as functional as they once were.  In fact, over half of all falls take place at home. With a few modifications, however,  you can make your home a safe and comfortable place to age in place, independently, and reduce the risk of falling.

5 quick and easy home modifications you can make on your own

  1. Secure some support: Buy a shower seat, grab bar, and adjustable-height handheld shower head to make bathing easier and safer.
  2. Light it up: Replace burnt-out bulbs with bright, non-glare lightbulbs.
  3. Have a seat: Place a sturdy chair in your bedroom so you can sit while getting dressed.
  4. Clear the way: Keep items off the stairs, and fix simple but serious hazards such as clutter and throw rugs.
  5. Store for success: Keep frequently used items between your waist and shoulder height.

 

As you’re going through your house and inspecting your home for falls risk, refer to the above home modification checklist for additional safety recommendations. Some home fixes, like installing grab bars in the bathroom or repairing loose pavement, may require a health professional or a housing contractor to assist with the install or modification. You may also consider purchasing a medical alert system to monitor movement around your home and alert emergency response if a fall is detected.

Your home doesn’t have to be an obstacle course of potential falls. For more tips, check out the National Council on Aging’s 18 steps that can help fall proof your home.

For more information, visit bit.ly/NHSHMworkgroup and www.homemods.org/hmin to find home modification funding sources.

These materials were developed by the National Home Safety and Home Modification Work Group. The Work Group is a collaboration of the National Falls Prevention Resource Center at the National Council on Aging and the Fall Prevention Center of Excellence at the University of Southern California Leonard Davis School of Gerontology.  This project was supported in part by grant number 90FP0023 from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services.