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How can I prevent falls at home?

One of the most common places for injuries to happen is at home. A major cause of injuries – including bone fractures – is falling. Although a fall can happen at any age, the risk increases in older adults.

“Falls are the leading cause of death due to injury among Canadians over age 65,” says Shelley Thakrar, a physiotherapist with the Endocrinology Program and the Women’s Cardiovascular Health Initiative at Women’s College Hospital. “The good news is that the majority of falls can be prevented by following some simple steps.”

Thakrar offers six general principles for preventing falls at home:

1. Stay active

“Muscle weakness can lead to falls,” Thakrar says. “It’s important to choose exercises that improve balance, coordination and posture. Strengthening muscles is also important.”

If you’re not sure what type of exercise to do, ask a healthcare provider for advice.

2. Have your medication reviewed regularly by your healthcare provider

“Some medications or combinations of medication can cause dizziness, drowsiness or unsteadiness, which can increase your chance of a fall,” Thakrar says.

Reviewing all your medications with your healthcare provider on a regular basis can reduce these risks.

3. Have your vision checked regularly

“Poor vision can lead to falls,” Thakrar says. Have your eyesight tested regularly, and be sure to wear prescription glasses or contacts when needed.

4. Take your time

“Don’t rush,” Thakrar says. Rushing increases the risk of a fall, whether you’re rushing to an appointment or rushing to answer the phone. “Give yourself plenty of time to get to appointments, and be aware of your surroundings.”

5. Get rid of falling hazards

“Simple things like keeping clutter off the floors and staircase can make a difference,” Thakrar says. In your home, remove anything you might trip or slip on, make sure your home is well lit, and choose suitable footwear. Some suggestions for a safer home:

  • remove throw rugs and ensure that area carpets are non-skid
  • replace carpets with upturned or frayed edges
  • don’t leave items on the stairs, or at the top of the stairs
  • keep items you use frequently within arm’s reach
  • consider non-slip mats in bathtubs or showers
  • use higher wattage light bulbs to improve visibility
  • keep stairways well lit
  • use nightlights in hallways, especially if you often get up at night
  • indoors, wear non-skid slippers with a closed heel
  • outdoors, choose footwear that’s suitable for the weather

6. Use safety equipment

Safety equipment for your home doesn’t have to be complicated, and can help prevent falls.

  • install hand rails on both sides of the stairs
  • install grab bars or rails near toilets and showers or tubs for additional support
  • make sure your mobility devices, such as walkers or canes, are well-maintained
  • have your mobility device adjusted for your height


This information is provided by Women’s College Hospital and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: March 1, 2014

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