Senior Living Q & A: How can I avoid falls?

Q. As I get older, I worry about falling. What can I do to protect myself from falls?

First, examine your home for safety hazards.

Bathrooms are a prime source of accidents. Put non-slip tape in your bathtub or shower. Install grab bars and use a non-slip bath mat.

Keep all the things you use regularly in cupboards that are easily reachable. If you must use a step stool, use the kind that has a handle. Never stand on a chair. Have a family member or neighbor come over to change that burned-out light bulb.

Did you know that you can call the fire department (call their regular number, not 911) and they will change the batteries in your smoke alarms? Be sure that all electrical cords are behind furniture, and not anywhere where you might trip over them. Never put them under throw rugs. For that matter, don’t have throw rugs. They are a leading cause of falls. If you must use them, secure them to the floor with carpet tape. If you have wood floors, avoid slippery footwear such as socks.

Stairs should have handrails on both sides. Limit the number of items you carry at one time. It’s better to make two trips than to risk falling because you can’t see where you are going. Provide adequate lighting and have night lights in the bedroom and bathroom.

You can take preventive measures by taking a fall-prevention program to strengthen your muscles and improve your balance. Two that are in our local community are Fall Proof Balance at YMCA of the Foothills and A Balanced Life at Verdugo Hills Hospital.

There are many options on the market today for emergency response systems you can use if you do fall. Wearing a pendant around your neck or a wristband with a built-in alarm system provides peace of mind that is hard to achieve in any other way. Additionally, hearing a human voice at the other end of the line brings immediate reassurance. This is especially important if you live alone.

NANCY TURNEY received a bachelor's degree in social work and a certificate in gerontology. If you have a specific question you would like answered in this column, email it to or call Turney at the Crescenta-Cañada YMCA, (818) 790-0123, ext. 225.

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