Life is sweet at home

Falls Prevention Tips for Seniors

Sensible shoes help prevent falls. Photo courtesy FirstSTREET

Despite my best efforts to provide a safe environment and excellent companions, my mom recently fell at home. Fortunately, Mom checked out okay at the local ER, but she was bruised and frightened by the experience. I was frightened, too!

As a result of her fall and since September 22 is “Falls Prevention Awareness Day”, let’s all redouble our efforts to “fall proof” our older loved one’s home and look at ways to make it easier for them to navigate around.

King County Falls Prevention Facts & Figures

These King County Falls Prevention statistics show what a toll falls take on our elders:

  • In King County falls made up about 20 percent of EMS responses among people 65 years and older.
  • 10 to 15% of these events result in serious injury.
  • Half of these serious injuries are fractures. Half require hospital discharge to a nursing home and more than a quarter die in the year following injury.
  • Falls also result in a decline of functional ability and quality of life.

    Use assistive devices to prevent falls. Photo courtesy FirstSTREET

One Step Ahead Fall Prevention Program

King County EMS and local fire departments have developed the One Step Ahead Fall Prevention Program to identify who might fall and what can be done to make their lives safer. In our community the average age of participants is about 80, two-thirds are women, and about half live alone.

A fall prevention specialist is called in to talk to the individual about how to better “fall proof” their homes and to design a prevention plan. Since it was started about five years ago, the program has been successful at reducing repeat falls.

Mayo Clinic’s Six Tips to Prevent Falls:

  • See your doctor – manage medications
  • Keep moving – exercise
  • Wear sensible shoes
  • Remove home hazards
  • Light up your living space
  • Use assistive devices
Home modifications to Prevent Falls for Seniors
Because about 50-70 percent of falls are due to home hazards, let’s focus on this checklist for ways to reduce falls around the house:


  • Keep stairways, halls & walkways well lit
  • Light bulbs should be 60-75 watts in all rooms


  • Arrange furniture so that you have plenty of room to walk without obstacles.
  • Keep walkways free of cords, clutter, and other obstacles.
  • Don’t let newspapers/magazines collect on the floor.
  • Remove throw rugs or secure them with double stick tape or tacks.
  • Take care of spills and dropped objects promptly.

Steps and stairways

  • All stairs and steps should have secure handrails on both sides.
  • Secure loose carpet or loose steps.
  • Stairs should be well lit with light switches at the top and bottom.
  • Keep stairways free of clutter.
  • Don’t wear socks on stairs.

Living Room/Bedroom/Kitchen

  • Make sure that your furniture is easy for you to get in and out of (knee height or higher is easiest).
  •  regularly used items within comfortable reach.
  • Keep a phone on a low table within reach of the floor.
  • Keep a light/flashlight and phone within reach of your bed.
  • Install night-lights in your bedroom and bathroom.


  • Place a non-skid rug on the bathroom floor.
  • Install and use wall grab bars by the toilet and inside the shower/tub area.
  • Line the tub or shower with non-skid mats or non-slip adhesive strips.
  • Use a shower chair and handheld shower head.


  • Firmly fastened (Velcro or cotton laces)
  • Non-skid, low-heeled, lightweight and supportive

For more information about how to prevent falls, please visit: