older-nowHere’s how to make your home a place where you can move around more easily and worry less about getting hurt from a slip or a fall.

Your Safe Zone

Clear the clutter. Get a friend or family member to help you clear your home’s walkways of anything you can trip over. Phone cords, electric wires, pet bowls, and other things can get underfoot. Move it out of the way, or consider getting rid of it.

Light it up. As you get older, you need more light to see. Make sure light switches are in easy-to-reach places, and at the bottom and top of any stairs. Turn the lights on before you get up to move around. And always know where the flashlights are in case the power goes out.

Hold the rails. If you have stairways, put handrails on both sides of them and treads on each step. Make sure you hold onto a railing when you walk up or down the stairs, and go slowly. If you have your hands full, make sure you can see each step.

Cut the skids. Use self-adhesive, non-skid mats or safety treads in bathtubs, showers, and pools. Use non-skid rugs on bathroom floors and pads under rugs on bare floors.

Grab hold. Consider getting grab bars installed on both sides of toilets and bathtubs. Put handrails in the shower and wherever necessary.

Toss the throw rugs, or make sure they’re secured with double-sided tape. Over half of all falls happen at home. This simple fix can help you keep you safe.

Move it where you use it. Keep items you use often — food, cans, dishes, clothes — where you can reach them. This way you won’t have to climb on a stool.

Wear sturdy shoes inside and outside. The footwear helps with your balance. Avoid slippers or walking barefoot.

Once your home is a safe zone, you’re likely to have less accidents. You can move around with more confidence and a renewed sense of independence. But talk to your doctor if you’re having any trouble. She may refer you to an occupational therapist, who can come to your home and advise you on how to make more changes.

Knowledge and Power

Whether you’re at home or on the go, you can do two other things to lower your chances of a fall.

Know the side effects. Read the labels on any medications you take — or check with your doctor or pharmacist — to learn if one or more of the drugs might make you feel dizzy or tired. That can make falling more likely. If you have side effects, write down when they started and let your doctor know. She might adjust your medication or dosage.

Stay strong. Weak legs raise your odds of a fall. Keep fit to give your body a stable foundation. Even a daily walk can make a difference. Or you could try a gentle exercise program, like tai chi, to improve your balance.