One day you’re doing just fine, getting on with your usual daily routine, and then you have a fall at home which changes everything. Recovering from a fall can be a long and painful process. While getting older can often mean having balance problems, this doesn’t mean having a fall is inevitable. Try using this fall prevention checklist, and your chances of having a fall at home will be considerably lower.
As you walk around your house, go into each room and ask yourself the questions below. Once you’re done, make a to-do list of all the fixes you need to make your home safer.
Your stairs and steps: indoors and outdoors
1. Are any steps broken or uneven?
If they are, it’s time to get them fixed.
2. Is there a light and light switch at the top and bottom of the stairs?
If not, hire an electrician to fit an overhead light and light switch at the top and bottom of the stairs. You can even invest in light switches that glow, so you can more easily see them in the dark.
3. Is the stairway light bulb working?
If it isn’t, have a friend or family member replace the bulb with a new one.
4. Is the carpet on the steps loose or torn?
If not, ensure the carpet is securely attached to each step, or alternatively, remove the stairway carpet and attach non-slip rubber treads instead.
5. Are the handrails loose or broken?
If they are, get them fixed.
6. Are there handrails on both sides of the stairs?
If not, get new handrails fitted and make sure they are as long as the stairway.
1. Do you have to walk around the furniture whenever you walk through a room?
If you do, ask someone to shift your furniture to create a clear path for you.
2. Do you have throw rugs on the floor?
If you do, either use double-sided tape or a non-slip backing to prevent them from slipping, or remove them altogether.
3. Are there any objects on the floor that are trip hazards such as papers, shoes, or books?
If so, pick them up and try your best to keep objects off the floor.
4. Do you have to walk over or around wires or cords such as telephone or lamp wires or extension cords?
If you do, tape cords and wires to the wall, or hire an electrician to put in another outlet so you don’t have wires crossing your path in a room.
1. Are the items you most often use on high shelves?
If so, move them down to lower shelves, which are at about waist height.
2. Is your step stool sturdy?
If you have to use a step stool to reach things on higher shelves, get one that has a bar you can hold on to, and never use a chair as a step stool.
1. Is the light closest to your bed hard to reach?
If so, move it closer, so you can reach it easily.
2. Is the path from your bed to the bathroom well lit?
If not, put in nightlights.
1. Is the bathtub or shower floor slippery?
If it is, use a non-slip rubber mat or self-stick strips on the floor.
2. Do you need support to get in and out of the bathtub or to get up from the toilet?
If you do, have grab bars installed next to the toilet and bathtub, as well as in the bathtub.
Now that you’ve got your to-do list ready, make sure you get the help you need to check them all off.
Creating a safer home isn’t all you can do to reduce your chances of having a fall. It is equally as important to deal with the root cause of any dizziness or imbalance issues you may have.
At Scottsdale Ear, Nose & Throat, we can offer you a number of advanced tests to find out what is causing your dizziness and ultimately get you the treatment you need. So for balance testing in Arizona using state-of-the-art technology, call us now at 480-684-1080 to schedule your appointment.
Debra Hamila received her master’s degree in audiology from Cleveland State University and her Au.D. from Arizona School of Health Sciences and has been a practicing audiologist for more than 33 years. She has worked in a variety of ENT offices, hospital and clinical settings.