Each year, thousands of older Americans fall at home. Many of them are seriously injured, or worse. Falls are the leading cause of injury death among those 65 and older. Falls are often due to hazards that are easy to overlook but easy to fix. Many falls can be prevented by making simple environmental, personal and lifestyle changes.
This checklist from the caregivers Phoenix families trust at Nightingale Homecare will help you find and fix hazards in your home. The checklist details hazards found in each room of your home and identifies what you can do to correct the hazards. Your home health care team can also assess your specific risk of falling and suggest ways to prevent falls.
When you walk through a room, are floor surfaces uneven?
- Repair uneven surfaces in the home.
When you walk through a room, do you have to walk around furniture, paper, boxes or clutter?
- Ask someone to move the furniture so your path is clear.
- Remove boxes and clutter to open up passageways.
Do you have throw rugs on the floor?
- Remove the rugs or use double sided tape or a non-slip backing so the rugs won’t slip.
- Check rugs and mats periodically to see if backing or tape needs to be replaced.
Are floors waxed?
- Do not wax floors; it makes them more slippery. If floors must be waxed, use non-slip wax.
Do you have to walk over or around wires or cords?
- Coil or tape cords and wires next to the wall. If needed, have an electrician put in more outlets.
- Arrange furniture so that outlets are near lamps and appliances to eliminate the use of extension cords.
STEPS AND STAIRS
Are there papers, shoes, books, or other objects on the stairs?
- Pick up things on the stairs.
- Always keep objects off the stairs.
Are some steps broken or uneven?
- Fix loose or uneven steps.
- Even small differences in steps’ surfaces or riser heights can lead to falls.
Are you missing a light over the stairway?
- Have an electrician put in an overhead light at the top and bottom of the stairs.
- Use the maximum wattage bulb allowed by the light fixture.
- Reduce glare through indirect lighting, shades or globes on light fixtures.
Do you have only one light switch for your stairs?
- Have an electrician put in a light switch at the top and bottom of the stairs.
Is the carpet or flooring on the steps loose or torn?
- Make sure the carpet or flooring is firmly attached to every step. You can also attach non-slip rubber treads to the stairs, or paint the stairs with non-skid paint.
Are the handrails loose or broken or only on one side of the stairs?
- Fix loose handrails or put in new ones.
- Make sure handrails are on both sides of the stairs and go the length of the stairs.
Are stair steps difficult to see?
- Paint a contrasting color on the top front edge of all steps so you can see the stairs
- Apply non-skid and colored tape on the outer edges of the steps.
Evaluate stair access; would a ramp or stair glide/stair lift be appropriate?
- Install stair ramp or stair glide/lift as appropriate.
FLOOR PLAN LAYOUT
Is it possible to modify the living areas of the home?
- Consider modifying the layout of the home to keep all living areas to one level of the home.
Are the things you use most often on high shelves?
- Move items in your cabinets to lower shelves, about waist level.
- Install shelves and cupboards at an easy-to-reach level.
- Use a pole reaching device to access items on higher shelves.
Is the tub or shower floor slippery?
- Put a non-slip rubber mat or self-stick strips on the tub or shower floor.
- Use a shower chair or shower board with a hand-held shower head while showering.
Do you need some support when you get in and out of the tub, or up from the toilet?
- Have a handyman who is qualified put in grab bars next to the tub and toilet.
Is the light near the bed hard to reach?
- Place a lamp close to the bed where it is easy to reach.
Is there something sturdy to hold onto next to the bed to help you get out of bed?
- Place a heavy piece of furniture next to the bed.
- Have a qualified handyman install a grab rail onto the wall.
- Use a cane or walker for support.
Is the path from your bed to the bathroom dark?
- Install a nightlight so you can see where you are walking.
- Keep a flashlight near the bed.
- Evaluate and add lighting throughout the home
- Put in brighter bulbs. Use lamp shades to reduce glare.
CHAIRS AND TABLES
Are chairs and tables sturdy, without casters?
- Avoid tripod or pedestal tables. Tables should have four sturdy legs.
- Remove casters from chairs and tables.
Are frequently used chairs equipped with arm rests and high backs?
- Using arm rests makes it easier to sit down into or to stand up from a chair. High backs provide support for the neck and also provide support when transferring weight.
Are frequently used chairs high enough to ensure ease in standing?
- Place firm cushions in chairs with low seats.
- Consider using a chair lift to help you get in and out of the chair.
At Nightingale Homecare, we’re dedicated to fall risk prevention. We are always pleased to provide a safety assessment of the home for the seniors we serve and our Paces fall prevention program offers seniors additional protection from falls. Call us at (602) 504-1555 to request an in-home consultation to learn more ways we’re helping seniors throughout Phoenix and the surrounding areas remain safe, comfortable, and thriving, right in the comfort of home.