Home Safety - Preventing Falls
Patient's name: __________
_______ Install safety grab bars in shower, tub, and around the toilet.
________ Suction cup grab bars are only recommended to used for
balance, not for pulling up to stand. (Remove after each use.)
________ 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 bath mat in tub / shower stall.
________ Use raised toilet seat (especially after a hip replacement. Toilet
seat should be a few inches higher than the distance from your
knee to floor.)
________ Use shower seat in tub; a seat with a back is best.
________ Use a tub transfer bench if you cannot step over the side of the
________ Use a hand held shower with the shower seat.
________ Put soap in a nylon stocking and hang from faucet so it cannot fall
________ Use a long handled sponge to wash feet and back.
________ Use a clear shower curtain for more light.
________ Use a night light in the bathroom.
________ Remove unessential furniture (clothes hampers, extra cabinets)
________ Use contrasting colors in bathroom; Paint a bathroom with white
fixtures a bright color and have a darker floor. Contrast changes
as you age. Also good for Alzheimer’s patients.
________ Get a bed rail to assist with rolling or sitting up at the side of bed.
________ Use nightlight in the bedroom and the hallway to the bathroom
________ Have a light and phone within easy reach of the bed.
________ Have a flashlight near the bed in case the electricity goes out.
________ Platform to get on and off a high bed
________ Tuck in blankets and long bedspreads so they aren’t on the floor.
_______ Install hand rails for stairs, both sides is best
________ Remove clutter on stairs
________ Good lighting and switches at top and bottom of stair case.
________ Carpet should be securely fastened to steps.
________ Stair should have non-skid surface. Non-slip strips are available.
________ Vertical grab handles on door frame at top step or at the door to
________ Use contrasting colored tape to mark steps
________ Remove slippery throw rugs or rugs with edges that curl.
________ Use only non-slip rugs at sinks, doorways, outside the shower.
Put rug away after bathing because it can interfere with using a
________ Attach rugs to the floor with double-sided tape or duck tape.
________ Avoid shiny, slippery floor treatments (especially with low vision).
________ Keep all electrical cords away from walkways. Remove cords
under a rug because they are a fire hazard.
________ Remove any low tables, furniture with sharp edges or glass
panels, and furniture that may tip over or move if used for
________ Tack down or tape down carpet edges.
________ Remove clutter from pathways; walkers need a path 25 inches
________ Wear low-heeled shoes with good support and thin, hard, nonskid
soles. Do not wear thick treaded shoes indoors.
________ Wear shoes that fit you well – not too loose! Velcro close shoes
adapt to swelling better than shoes that are a larger size.
________ Avoid sloppy, backless bedroom slippers or sandals; they make
people shuffle their feet. Wear moccasin style slippers instead in
________ Diabetics – wear shoes! Do not walk around the house
or outside barefooted or just wearing socks. Thin soled shoes are
especially important if you do not have good sensation in your
feet. If your feet are swollen, elevate them to decrease the
________ Outdoors in Winter – Use nonskid grippers (Yaktrax) on
shoes or boots. Sit down to put them on / take them off your
boots or leave them only on the boots you wear walking outside.
Do not wear them on tiled floors (like at the grocery store)
because they will not get any traction and will cause you to fall.
________ Use cane, crutches or walker for walking as recommended by
your doctor or physical therapist.
________ Use wheelchair as needed or recommended by doctor or physical
therapist; Lock brakes before standing up or sitting on a
________ Lock brakes before sitting on a 4 wheeled walker seat. Do not use
4 wheeled walker as a wheelchair.
________ Use braces as recommended by doctor or physical therapist.
________ Get a reacher for picking up objects from the floor or above
shoulder height especially if you are not supposed to bend forward
after total hip replacement.
________ Emergency Response System - Wear all the time if you
live alone. Lifelines are available through:
SAIL (Support for Active and Independent Lives) -
Advanced Security Solutions - (608) 831-1688
Meriter Hospital - (608) 417-3733
ST Mary’s Hospital - (608) 258-6747
Stoughton Hospital - (608) 873-2372
Do you get dizzy when you stand up? Get up slowly from sitting, lying down, squatting or bending over. Talk to your doctor about your medications and make sure you drink enough liquids. This is especially important if you have had the flu with fever, vomiting or 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. Carry a small flashlight and keep it near your bed.
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 bending.
Use contrasting colors in your home so the furniture does not blend into the carpet.
If you must use a safety step stool, use one with wide steps, a nonskid surface on the stops, and a high handle to use as a stabilizer bar.
Most Important to Prevent Falls
Have your vision checked every year. Bifocals or trifocals can interfere with depth perception and seeing steps and curbs. Medicare pays for yearly exams.
Have your medications reviewed by your health care provider on a routine basis. If a medication says 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 do both leg strengthening and standing balance activities to avoid falls.
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.
Independent Living (to install of grab bars, get bed rails): (608) 274-7900
Wheelchair Recycling (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.
Accessibility Plus (install grab bars): (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 2007.
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.
The Spanish version of this Health Facts for You is #6752.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 12/03/2012
Copyright © 12/03/2012 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#6626
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