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How to stay Independent, Safe in the Home and Mobile in the Community as you Age.

As a person ages, physical changes can make it difficult to get around and do things you enjoy or need to do – like driving, shopping or household chores.

Having a plan to stay mobile can help reduce the risk of falls. If you find yourself losing your balance, it’s time to make some changes.

  1. It’s important to get a physical checkup each year. Certain health issues may increase your risk of falling (such as leg weakness and balance problems).
  2. Review all your medications with a doctor or pharmacist. Certain medications can have side effects that can change your ability to drive, walk or get around safely.
  3. Follow a regular exercise program to increase your strength and balance 3 times a week to reduce your risk of falling. For guidance regarding which strengthening and balance exercises you should do see a physical therapist. Physical therapists (PTs) are movement experts who maximize quality of life through prescribed exercise, hands-on care, and patient education.
  4. Get a medical eye exam once a year. Eye problems can increase your risk of falling or being in a car crash.

To keep your home safe

  1. Check the FLOORS in each room and reduce tripping hazards.
    1. Keep objects off the floor.
    2. Remove or tape down rugs.
    3. Coil or tape cords and wires next to the wall and out of the way.
  2. Check the KITCHEN
    1. Put often-used items within easy reach (about waist level).
    2. For items not within easy reach, always use a step stool and never use a chair.
  3. Check the BEDROOMS
    1. Use bright light bulbs.
    2. Place lamps close to the bed where they are within reach.
    3. Put in night-lights to be able to see a path in the dark. For areas that don’t have electrical outlets, consider battery-operated lights.
  4. Check inside and outside STAIRS and STEPS:
    1. Check for loose or uneven steps. Repair if needed.
    2. Make sure carpet is firmly attached to every step, or remove carpet and attach non-slip rubber treads.
    3. Check for loose or broken handrails. Repair if needed.
    4. Consider installing handrails on both sides of the stairs.
    5. Use bright overhead lighting at the top and bottom of the stairs.
    6. Consider putting light switches at both the top and bottom of the stairs.
  5. Check the Bathrooms:
    1. Put non-slip rubber mats or self-stick strips on the floor of the tub or shower.
    2. Consider installing grab bars for support getting in and out of the tub or shower, and up from the toilet.

Falls are more likely when wearing inappropriate footwear, such as flip flops that don’t cover the heel. Wear safe shoes that fit well, have a firm heel to provide stability, and have a textured sole to prevent slipping.