Preventing Falls Checklist

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Did you know that by making some simple changes you could prevent a nasty fall? Falls are a major cause of broken hips and other serious injuries in people 65 and older.

Taking some measures to prevent falls can lower your chances of breaking a bone or otherwise injuring yourself. And that can mean that you can continue to take care of yourself, shop, cook, play golf and do the things you enjoy!

Here's a checklist of to-dos to help make you and your home safer. Don't be shy about asking your family, friends or neighbors to help you.


  • Clear pathways.
  • Pick up papers, books, shoes and other clutter. This is especially important from the bedroom to the bathroom because you use these pathways at night when you're groggy.
  • Move aside any furniture and anything else you have to walk around.

  • Secure carpets and electrical cords. Loose carpets are a common hazard and cause of falls.
  • Secure rugs with non-skid backing.
  • Tape electrical and telephone cords to the wall and out of the way.

  • Safe-proof stairs. Stairs can be a dangerous fall zone.
  • Make sure your stairways have easy-to-grip and sturdy railings that run the full length of the stairs.
  • If possible, install handrails on both sides of the stairs
  • Have an electrician put switches at the top and the bottom of stairs if you don't already have them.

  • Lighten up. Do a quick walk through to check lighting during day and night.
  • Bring in more lighting fixtures or boost lighting with brighter bulbs.
  • Make sure you have lighting you can reach from your bed.
  • Plug in nightlights to light up your path from your bedroom to your bathroom.
  • Have an electrician put switches at the top and the bottom of stairs if you don't already have them.

  • Bathrooms need extra attention. Many falls occur in slippery bathrooms.
  • Install grab handles by the tub, shower and toilet, if needed.
  • Put nonskid mats or self stick strips on the inside of your shower or tub.


  • Be aware of any breaks or uneven areas in your walkways and driveway. Fix if possible.
  • Clean up tripping hazards such as loose hoses, rocks, pet toys or holes in the lawn.
  • Sprinkle salt or cat litter on slippery steps and sidewalks when snowy or icy.
Healthy Habits

  • Good Housekeeping.
  • Use nonskid floor wax or other floor finishing products.
  • Wipe up spills right away, especially on ceramic tile floors.
  • Be alert for pets, children and their toys underfoot.

  • Make reaching easy.
  • Avoid the need to use ladders. Store items in shelves that are easily reached.
  • Use a reaching device (available at medical supply stores) for high items.
  • A sturdy step stool is best, but if you must use a ladder, make sure it is locked well and don't climb too high.

  • Buy safe footwear.
  • Make sure shoes have good traction. Replace shoes when soles are worn out.
  • Wear low heeled shoes, especially when doing housework, yard work or exercising.

  • Dizziness and falling.
  • Take it slow when getting up from lying or sitting positions.
  • Use grab bars in the bathroom or hold on to something for firm support when you reach or bend.
  • Use a cane or walker if needed.
  • Be careful about drinking alcohol. Too much can affect your coordination. Also, talk to your doctor about any medications that make you lightheaded or dizzy.
  • Keep yourself in good condition, exercise, and get regular checkups including eye exams.
  • If you live alone, have daily contact with family or friends. You might consider installing an emergency response device in your home.
External Source

National Institute on Aging. Preventing falls and fractures. Accessed August 4, 2008. Available at:

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Fast facts: what are the ways to prevent falls and related fractures? Accessed August 4, 2008. Available at:

Author: Nancy Reid / OptumHealth

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