How to Prevent Falls at Home

Prevent Falls at Home

“Falls are pretty common for older Americans,” says Anup Dhage, PT, MS, of the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Department at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center. “One in four Americans over the age of 65 will fall within a year.”

One in five of those falls will cause a serious injury, such as a broken bone or head injury.

Fortunately, a few basic precautions can greatly reduce the risk of falling at home.

Talk to your doctor and evaluate your risk, including a review of your medications.

Do simple, regular exercises to improve your balance. Have your eyes checked at least once a year. And take the precautionary steps shown on this page to make your home safer.

  • In the Bathroom 
    “Falls often happen in this area. Make sure you have guardrails that are attached to studs on the walls so they are sturdy,” Dhage says. Buy a raised toilet seat that fits on top of your toilet to make sitting and standing easier.
  • In the Kitchen
    If you have a rug in front of the sink, make sure it’s secured underneath by a nonskid surface, such as double-sided tape. “Be sure to clean up any spills on the floor right away,” Dhage cautions.
  • On the Stairs
    Keep stairs free of clutter and always hold on to the handrail to prevent falling or tripping. Use a bright contrast tape on the edge of each step to help you differentiate the height of steps when lighting is poor.
  • Throughout the House
    Pick up clutter from the floors. Keep extension cords near walls. “We recommend that you remove any area rugs because their corners can fold up and cause a fall,” Dhage says.
  • Just in Case
    Always carry a cell phone or a personal emergency alert system. “If you do fall, stay calm,” Dhage advises. “Take a few deep breaths, then do a self-check for injuries. Crawl to the nearest chair so you can get up off the floor. If you are injured, call 911 or a friend or neighbor.”

More tips from the CDC about preventing falls for older people.

To learn about physical therapy, physical medicine, and rehabilitation at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, call (973) 926-7270.