5 On Your Side

Clear hazards, increase lighting to decrease chance of falls

Posted March 9

Falls are a real problem for seniors, whether you trip on something or just lose your footing.

One in four seniors will fall this year, but there are ways to keep you and your loved ones from tripping up.

At 72 years old, Howie Weiss make steady, deliberate moves. He knows how important it is to stay in shape.

Yet, the realities of aging led him to make some changes to prevent a fall at home.

"Rather than picking up the laundry basket in two hands and walking down not holding on, I take the laundry basket and I walk, holding on, backwards and pull it down the stairs one step at a time," Weiss said.

His concerns are real. The Centers for Disease Control says falls are the leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal injuries among among older adults.

Consumer Reports says many falls are preventable with a few easy changes around the house, such as moving anything that may block your walkway.

Next, find a place for things, such as pet bowls and electrical cords along the walls, and get piles of papers off the ground.

"You're basically taking a good look around and moving anything at all that somebody might trip over," said Consumer Reports' Dan DiClerico.

Consumer Reports also recommends getting rid of throw rugs, which can skid, or keep them in place with carpet tacks or double sided carpet tape. Wall-to-wall carpeting is the safest bet, though.

Another recommendation is to put a rubber mat or non-slip strips in the bathroom tub and install grab bars.

Poor lighting can also be a culprit in triggering falls, especially at the top and bottom of stairs.

As Weiss knows firsthand, a few little changes can go a long way.

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