Home Improvements Now, Prevent Falls in the Future

by Christina Lasich, MD Health Professional

Falling down can be a life changing event, usually for the worse. As with most accidents, falls can be prevented. This spring you may want to consider making some home improvements to improve the safety of your environment inside and out.

Inside the house, there are three key danger zones: the bathroom, the kitchen and the entry way. Each zone can be modified to reduce the chances of you tripping and falling. First, look at your bathroom. Do you have grab bars or handles where you can quickly reach out to stabilize yourself? Especially around the area of the shower or bath tub, a strategically placed handhold can mean the difference between months of pain and escaping unscathed. Your local hardware store is a great place to get ideas about home safety devices that you can install yourself. A home medical supply store is another place to look for items to improve the safety of your bathroom. Items like raised toilet seats and shower chairs are important pieces of equipment that can prevent falls too. Next, inspect your kitchen; you should have non-slip mats around the sink area that prevent you from slipping on a wet floor. You should also reorganize your cupboards. Move items that you use frequently into spaces that are easily accessible without using a stepstool or a ladder. Simple tricks and thoughtfulness can greatly improve accessibility and safety in your kitchen and bathroom.

The transition area between the inside and the outside is called the entry way. This area is notoriously associated with falls. If you have two or more steps into your home, you may seriously want to consider a ramp, especially as you grow older. A ramp is not an easy home improvement and usually requires professional help to install. However, isn't your safety worth it? And don't forget to keep your entry way clear of hazards that you can trip over. Even if you have a clear pathway, good lighting is essential too. Try a motion sensing light that turns on automatically so you never have to be walking around in the dark. In fact, good lighting is important both inside and out.

Specifically evaluating your outside environment; you may have a favorite walkway to your garden or a beautiful patio that you like to enjoy. Look for strategic places where a handrail might come in handy to help steady you as you cruise around. You can also create sitting areas at the places in between point A and point B. A little sitting break to catch your breath and gather your strength can be equally important as a handrail for prevent falls. However, a simple little walking stick placed at your doorway might be all that you need when you go outside. Many people refuse to go outside because of their fear of falling. Don't succumb to fear; conquer your fear of falling by being smarter than the problem.

Some key improvements to your outdoor and indoor environment could prevent you from taking a life-altering fall. A broken hip, a broken back or a broken arm is not only painful; it is also a potential gateway to worsening health problems. A day in the hospital or a trip to the operating room can lead to other conditions like pneumonia, wound infections, heart problems, and depression. So it's better to take the time now in order to make those home safety improvements that you have been putting off for far too long.

Christina Lasich, MD
Meet Our Writer
Christina Lasich, MD

Christina Lasich, M.D., wrote about chronic pain and osteoarthritis for HealthCentral. She is physiatrist in Grass Valley, California. She specializes in pain management and spine rehabilitation.