What you can do to prevent falls in the home

We have all fallen at some point in our life, most of the time not injuring ourselves, but probably feeling silly or embarrassed. The elderly population face a greater risk of falling so we thought it appropriate to discuss preventing falls, not only at home but outside. Serious falls can result in broken bones and can be life changing. There are simple precautions to follow that can ensure safety and reduce your risk of falling. A periodic safety check of your home is suggested and can include the following:

• Stairways - Make sure all handrails are in working order and securely fastened. It is important to note both sides of the steps should have handrails.

• Floors and rugs - Make sure all floorboards are secure and even; all rugs should be fastened to the floor with tacks, non-skid pads, or double-sided tape.

• Bathroom - Place non-slip strips in the bathtub/shower; secure bath mats with non-slip, double sided tape; mount grab bars at the toilet, bath and shower, and on the walls; use adaptive equipment such as a bath chair, raised toilet seat, or handheld shower.

• Kitchen - Keep frequently used items within reach; if a step stool is necessary always use one that has a bar at the top.

• Lighting - Use nightlights in hallways, bedrooms, and bathrooms; install light switches at the top and bottom of the stairs; have a lamp near your bed.

• All rooms - Keep obstacles out of traffic area.

• Outside of your home - Repair walkways; arrange for snow, ice, and leaves to be removed from walkways; have salt and sand available during the inclement winter months; walk carefully and carry a cell phone if available. Assessing your home for fall hazards and making necessary changes to prevent them are very important. It is also recommended you talk to your physician or pharmacist about possible side effects of medications and over-the-counter drugs. Have your eyes checked on a regular basis. Vision problems can cause falls. Wear proper shoes. Stay as physically active as recommended by your physician. Exercise strengthens muscles and can enhance balance and coordination. If you are a low-income homeowner and require assistance in making necessary modifications to your home, there are programs available to assist. To find out more, contact the Clinton County Office for the Aging at 565-4620.

The Senior Connection is a column provided by the Clinton County Office for the Aging. For more information about services for senior citizens, contact their office at 135 Margaret St., Suite 105, Plattsburgh or call them at 565-4620.

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