Clinical Hub,Patient Education,Health and Nutrition Facts For You,Geriatrics

Home Safety - Preventing Falls (6626)

Home Safety - Preventing Falls (6626) - Clinical Hub, Patient Education, Health and Nutrition Facts For You, Geriatrics


Home Safety – Preventing Falls

Patient’s name: __________________________ Date__________________

Therapist: _____________________________________

Bathroom Equipment
_______ Install safety grab bars beside the toilet.
________ Get toilet safety frame to attach to toilet (to avoid installing bars into the wall).
________ Use a commode beside the bed if you can’t get to the bathroom. It can be
adapted to use over the toilet. Drop arm commodes are available so you can
slide from bed or wheelchair.
________ Use raised toilet seat. After total hip replacement the toilet seat should be a few
inches higher than the distance from knee to floor.
________ Use nightlight in the bathroom.
________ Install safety grab bars around tub or in the shower stall.
________ Suction cup grab bars are only advised to be used for balance, NOT for pulling up
to stand. (Remove after each use).
________ Use bath mat in tub.
________ Use non skid rug beside tub or shower. Put the rug away after bathing so it does not
interfere with using a walker.
________ Use an adjustable shower seat with back in tub.
________ Use a tub transfer bench if you cannot step over the side of the tub.
________ Use a hand held shower with the shower seat.

Safe Bathing Tips
________ Clear shower curtain or shower doors allow more light while bathing.
________ Use a long handled sponge to wash feet and back.
________ Remove furniture not needed in the bathroom.
________ Put soap in a nylon stocking and hang from a faucet so it cannot fall onto the floor
of the shower.
_______ Have someone assist you with a shower or tub bath.

________ Get a bed rail to assist with rolling or sitting up at the side of bed.
________ Use a nightlight in the bedroom and the hallway to the bathroom.
________ Have a clock and phone within easy reach of the bed.
________ Have a flashlight near the bed in case the power goes out.
________ Get a platform to get on and off a high bed.
________ Tuck in blankets and long bedspreads so they aren’t on the floor.

Living Room
_______ Get furniture risers or have a platform built to put under your favorite chair.
_______ Get a power lift chair if you cannot rise to stand without help.

_______ Use stairs only with assistance.
________ Install hand rails for stairs, inside and outside of home. Railings on both sides is
________ Do not carry things on stairs. If you must carry something put in bag with handles.
________ Remove clutter on stairs
________ Have good lighting with light switches at top and bottom of staircase.
________ Carpet should be securely fastened to steps.
________ Steps should have non-skid surface. Non-slip strips are available.
________ Use contrasting colored tape to mark steps for people with low vision.
________ Install a vertical grab handle on door frame at top step from the garage into
the house.

_______ Remove slippery throw rugs or rugs with edges that curl.
________ Use only non-slip rugs at sinks, doorways and outside the tub.
________ Attach rugs you don’t want to take away from the floor with double-sided tape or
duct tape.
________ Avoid shiny, slippery floor treatments (especially for people with low vision).

Traffic Paths
________ Keep all electrical cords away from walkways. Remove cords from under
rugs because they are a fire hazard.
________ Remove any low tables, furniture with sharp edges, glass panels
and furniture that may tip over or move if used for support.
________ Remove clutter from pathways. Walkers need a path at least 25 inches wide.
________ Oxygen tubing can be hazardous. Put pieces of brightly colored tape every 12
inches so the tubing is easier to see. Try not to have the tubing directly in your

________ Small or slow moving dogs and cats can get under your feet, walker or
crutches. Be careful with your pets and teach them to keep clear of the walker.
________ Turn on lights so you can see your pets and they can see you.
________ Think about having someone else care for your pet during your period of illness
and recovery.
_________ Keep pet food dishes out of walkways.
_________ Do not put plastic backed incontinence pads in your pathway. They are very
slippery if you step on them.

________ In your house wear low-heeled shoes with good support and thin, hard, nonskid
soles. Wear thick treaded shoes for walking outdoors.
________ Wear shoes that fit you well – not too loose! Shoes with Velcro adapt to
swelling better than shoes that are too long for your foot.
________ Avoid sloppy, backless bedroom slippers or sandals. These make people
shuffle their feet. Wear moccasin style slippers instead.
________ Diabetics need to wear shoes with a sole to protect the bottom of their feet. Do not
walk around the house or outside barefoot or just in socks. Thin soled shoes are
needed to maximize sensation to bottom of feet.
________ Yaktrax – Wear only outside on ice and snow. They slide on tiled floors and garage
floors. They damage wood floors.

Assistive Devices
________ Walk only with assistance.
________ Use crutches or walker for walking. Follow weight bearing limits as directed by
your doctor and PT.
________ Use a cane for balance if you can put full weight on both feet.
________ Use wheelchair as needed or as advised by your doctor or PT. Lock brakes
before standing up or sitting on the wheelchair.
________ Lock brakes before sitting on a 4 wheeled walker seat. DO NOT use a 4 wheeled
walker as a wheelchair.
________ Use braces as urged by doctor or PT. Always wear a shoe when walking with an
ankle brace.
________ Get a reacher for picking up objects from the floor or above your head.
________ Personal Emergency Response System - Wear all the time if you live alone.
Lifelines are available through:

SAIL (Support for Active and Independent Lives) – (608) 230-4321.
Advanced Security Solutions – (608) 831-1688
Meriter Hospital – (608) 417-3733
St Mary’s Hospital – (608) 258-6747
Stoughton Hospital – (608) 873-2372
General Safety
Do you get dizzy when you stand up? Get up slowly from sitting, lying down, sitting on your
heels or bending over. Talk to your doctor about your medicines and make sure you drink
enough liquids. This is very important if you have had the flu with fever, vomiting, diarrhea or
just feeling under the weather. Treating acute illnesses can prevent a fall.

Avoid rushing to answer the phone or doorbell. A portable phone that you can take from room
to room with you is a good idea for security and safety. Do not attempt to open windows or
doors that are stuck or hard to open. When bending over to pick up items from the floor or a
lower level like a step or low shelf, use one hand on counter top, furniture or walker for support.

Arrange items in the kitchen and closets so they can be removed without over reaching or
Use contrasting colors in your home so the furniture does not blend into the floor.

Have your vision checked every year. Bifocals or trifocals can affect depth perception and
seeing steps and curbs. Medicare pays for yearly exams.

Have your medicine reviewed by your health care provider on a routine basis. If the pill bottle
states to take care with driving, you should also take care with walking! Treat acute
illnesses as soon as possible.

Exercise daily – get up on your feet and move around now if you want to be walking safely 10-
20 years from now! Walking helps your general health but studies show you need to strengthen
your legs and standing balance activities to avoid falling.

Do not combine alcohol with narcotics, sleeping pills, anti-depressants or anti-psychotic
medicines. If a medicine says “Use caution while driving” you are at an increased risk for falls
while walking and getting on and off your bed, chair, toilet, etc. Talk to your doctor about the
amount of alcohol you drink and if you need to decrease. You may need to change your alcohol
or medicine use.

Resources for Equipment
UW Home Health: (608) 203-2273. Office is at 2030 Pinehurst Drive, Middleton, 53562.
Meriter Home Health: (608) 417-3700. Office is at 2180 W. Beltline Hwy, Madison, 53713.
Walgreen’s and other pharmacies: several locations.
Independence First Mobility Store (for gently used equipment): (608) 243-1785. Their supply
varies and you must call to set up and appointment to get equipment. The office is at
2554 Advance Road, Madison, 53718.
For home modifications: (installation of grab bars, railing, bed rails, and other equipment)
Independent Living: (608) 274-7900
Accessibility Plus: (608) 335-6779

There are many other resources in the phone book or on the internet.

1. NIH Senior Health: National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Aging and National Library of Medicine
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2007.
3. University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics Department of Physical Therapy and Geriatric Falls Clinic and
UW Home Health Services
4. Universty of Otago Medical School, Dunedin, New Zealand, Interventions for Preventing Falls in Elderly
People, Gillespie, LD, Gillespie, WJ, Robertson, MC, Lamb, SE, Cumming, RG, Rowe, BH.

Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright ©4/2016. University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#6626.