Fall Prevention

Tips for Preventing Falls in the Elderly

  • Repair cracks and abrupt edges of sidewalks and driveways.
  • Install handrails on stairs and steps. Remove high doorway thresholds.
  • Trim shrubbery along the pathway to the home. Keep walk areas clear of clutter, rocks and tools. Keep walk areas clear of snow and ice.
  • Install adequate lighting by doorways and along walkways leading to doors.
  • Use a change in color to denote changes in surface types or levels.
  • Secure rugs with nonskid tape as well as carpet edges. Avoid throw rugs.
  • Remove oversized furniture and objects.
  • Have at least one phone extension in each level of the home and post emergency numbers at each phone. Add electrical outlets. Reduce clutter.
  • Check lighting for adequate illumination and glare control.
  • Maintain nightlights or motion-sensitive lighting throughout the home. Use contrast in paint, furniture and carpet colors.
  • Install electronic emergency response system if needed.
  • Install grab bars on walls around the tub and beside the toilet, strong enough to hold your weight.
  • Add nonskid mats or strips to bathtubs.
  • Mount liquid soap dispenser on the bathtub wall.
  • Install a portable, hand-held shower head.
  • Add a padded bath or shower seat.
  • Install a raised toilet seat if needed.
  • Use nonskid mats or carpet on floor surfaces that may get wet.
  • Keep commonly used items within easy reach.
  • Use a sturdy step stool when you need something from a high shelf. Make sure appliance cords are out of the way.
  • Avoid using floor polish or wax in order to reduce slick surfaces.
  • Keep electrical and telephone cords out of the way.
  • Arrange furniture so that you can easily move around it (especially low coffee tables). Make sure chairs and couches are easy to get in and out of. Remove caster wheels from furniture.
  • Use television remote control and cordless phone.
  • Avoid long sleeves and loose clothing while cooking.
  • Use an easy-to-use microwave instead of a stove or oven. Have stove controls easily accessible.
  • Keep pot handles turned to the back of the stove.
  • Put in a bedside light with a switch that is easy to turn on and off (or a touch lamp).
  • Have a nightlight.
  • Locate telephone within reach of bed.
  • Adjust height of bed to make it easy to get in and out of.
  • Have a firm chair, with arms, to sit and dress.
  • Keep free of clutter
  • Make sure carpet is secured and get rid of throw rugs.
  • Install tightly fastened handrails running the entire length and along both sides of stairs.
  • Handrails should be 34 inches high and have a diameter of about 1.5 inches.
  • Apply brightly colored tape to the face of the steps to make them more visible.
  • Optimal stair dimensions are 7.2 inch riser heights with either an 11 or 12 inch tread width.
  • Have adequate lighting in stairways, hallways, and pathways, with light switches placed at each end.

Web Resources

Center for Disease Control and Prevention
Contains information on how to identify elderly who are at risk for falls, and how to prevent falls in those individuals.