Preventing falls at home
Follow Montage Health's tips for preventing falls, making your home safer, and knowing what to do in case of a fall.
Who's at risk from falls?
Though falls can injure anyone, they can cause major injury for people who:
- Are older adults
- Are recovering from an illness or injury
You may have a higher risk of falling if you:
- Take certain medications that cause dizziness
- Have certain medical conditions or reduced strength or sensation that affect your balance or mobility
How to prevent trips and falls
To protect your health and independence:
- Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about the side effects of the medications you take. If they could affect your balance or coordination, ask how to reduce your risk of falling
- Limit your alcohol intake. Even a little alcohol can impair your balance and slow your reflexes. Find out if any of the medications you take interact with alcohol, which could make side effects like dizziness worse
- Pay careful attention when walking, especially when you're in a hurry or feeling stressed
- Have your vision and hearing tested regularly and corrected if needed. Even having ear wax removed can improve your balance
- Get up slowly from your bed or chair, especially after a meal, and take deep breaths. Give your body time to adjust from lying down or sitting to standing
- Wear supportive, rubber-soled, low-heeled shoes. Avoid wearing smooth-soled shoes or backless slippers on waxed floors or stairs
- Stay active. Regular exercise improves your strength, muscle tone, and balance. Talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program. Your doctor may refer you to a physical therapist for specific exercises to improve balance, strength, and gait (walking pattern)
- Walk. Start gradually and slowly increase the distance you walk. Use a cane or a walker if needed
Make your home safer
Talk to your doctor if you're worried you or a loved one may be at risk of falls. Improve your peace of mind when you:
- If you are at high risk for falls, you can wear an emergency medical alert system that you activate by pushing a button. This is used in emergencies when you need to call for help, but cannot reach a phone
- Practice getting up from the floor. Talk to your doctor or a physical therapist about exercises to strengthen your muscles and improve balance and mobility
- Keep rooms, halls, and stairs free of clutter, including telephone wires and electrical cords
- Keep halls, stairs, and other areas well-lit, and make sure lamps and light switches are within close reach. Install night lights in halls and bathrooms
- Have at least one firmly secured grab bar and use nonskid mats or surfaces in bathtubs and showers
- Have chairs, couches, and toilets at heights that are easy to get in and out of
- Make sure stairways have securely fastened handrails
- Make sure step stools are stable and undamaged
- Aim to remove rugs and mats, or use slip-resistant rugs and floor runners. If the rug or mat can’t be eliminated, you can secure the edges and borders of the rug to reduce the tripping hazard
- Have a telephone in easy reach of the floor and bed
What if I fall?
If you fall and have an injury, call 911. Wait for help to arrive instead of trying to get up by yourself.
Let your doctor know anytime you fall.
Information for caregivers
Learn how to help someone up from the floor. If you see someone fall or you're the caregiver of someone who fell, help them up only if they're uninjured and you aren't risking injury to yourself. If you can't help them up or they're hurt, call 911. Comfort the person who fell, place pillows around them, and keep them warm with a blanket until help arrives.
If you're assisting someone who needs help walking, assist them with the use of a cane or walker.