At home, take your time getting out of bed or up from a chair. Don’t rush to answer the doorbell or the phone. More accidents happen when you’re in a hurry. When you go out, don’t race for elevators or try to stop them with your arm or leg. Take your time sizing up curbs and steps. There’s no need to hurry.
7. Use Safety Devices
Installing grab bars and rubber mats in the bathroom is just the beginning. Mount handrails on both sides of the stairs. Make sure all area rugs have skid-proof backing. If you must use a stepstool, use a sturdy one with a handrail. Even better, buy a long-handled grasping device to help you reach. Never borrow someone else’s cane or walker. Make sure yours fits you.
8. Keep Things Light
Vision changes as we age, making it harder to avoid obstacles and get oriented in dim light. So keep your rooms bright! Install light switches near the entrances of rooms and at the top and bottom of the stairs. Use lots of nightlights, and keep multiple flashlights handy in case of power outages. Keep curtains and blinds open during the day to let in more light.
9. Watch Out for Pets
Dogs and cats make great companions, but it’s easy for them to get underfoot. Each year, an estimated 21,000 older adults wind up in emergency rooms after tripping over their pets. Don’t let pets sleep directly beside your bed or chair, where they might be in your way. Keep their toys and bowls off walkways. Wipe up spills right away. You may even want to put a bell on your pet’s collar to let you know when he’s close.
10. Limit Your Alcohol
It’s no surprise that heavy drinking can lead to more falls. When you drink, you can be unsteady on your feet. But excessive alcohol also can damage bone health. It can limit the calcium that gets into your bones and make them more brittle and prone to fracture. Thirsty? Have a glass of calcium-rich skim milk, fortified juice, or a smoothie made with low-fat yogurt.
11. Consider Changing Glasses
Bifocals and trifocals can sometimes make it harder to see straight ahead of you. A recent study found that wearing single-lens glasses for walking and outdoor activities reduced falls among older wearers. The American Geriatrics Society also recommends avoiding multifocals for walking, especially on stairs. However, if you’re not very active, going back and forth between glasses might be too disorienting.
12. Learn How to Fall
Even if you do fall, there are ways to reduce your chances of getting hurt. Remember this: Roll, don’t fall! If you start to slip and there’s nothing to grab, take a quick step or two to catch your balance. If there’s no stopping the tumble, drop down and attempt rolling out of the fall. Try to avoid landing on your hip.