Fall Prevention: Flooring, Furniture and Footwear
Carpeting and Rugs ... In most homes carpeting and rugs are used to wipe off incoming feet, as a mat when stepping out of the shower, or for decorative purposes. For whatever reason, the following 'rug rules' can be applied in your home:
- 'Throw rugs' that are not properly anchored to the floor should be removed. Many stores (i.e. home improvement) carry non-slip backing that can be cut to size and used as the 'glue' between the floor and the rug. Often throw rugs can be purchased with a rubber backing to prevent under foot slippage.
- Carpeting should be smooth - not wrinkled. Bent corners should be tacked down. Loose fibers should be cut and removed. Carpet that is not properly anchored to stairs is dangerous and could cause someone to slip or trip falling to the bottom.
- Outdoor stair surfaces need non-slip tape to prevent falling. Check your home improvement center for these products.
Furniture ... Even people who do not use an assisted device (i.e. cane, walker) may find navigating through your home difficult. Is your furniture arranged like a maze or organized for easy passage?
- Electrical and telephone cords should always be safely placed out of the walking path. Often these cords can be tacked to the floorboard, placed under furniture, or stored in specially designed runners. Check your home improvement store for ideas.
- Cordless telephones may eliminate the need to 'run to catch the phone'. Keeping a portable phone close by eliminates the need to move quickly and may prevent a fall.
- Pick up toys, books, newspapers, shoes, clothing and so on from the floor, especially stairways. Newspapers may easily cause slipping and falling.
Footwear ... Fashion trends should not dictate your footwear needs. Flatform shoes, high heels, unstructured, or ill-fitting shoes can lead to falling. An unsupported foot will not provide the solid foundation needed to help prevent a fall.
If you have a foot problem, you may need an orthotic. An orthotic is designed to fit inside shoes to provide support and/or to relieve pain from certain foot problems.
Non-slip and anti-slip soled shoes may help prevent a slip and fall. However, when these types of shoes (i.e. rubber soled shoes) are worn, care must be taken to avoid sticking to floor surfaces, which may contribute to stumbling or tripping.
Many leather-soled shoes may not provide needed traction on certain floor surfaces (i.e. tile). Don't wear socks or hosiery, as these do not provide floor-foot traction.
*Outdoors walking tip - if the sidewalk is slippery, try walking on the grass. Kitty litter or salt sprinkled on a slippery sidewalk may help to provide foot traction.
Assisted Devices - Available to Help Provide Stability
If you feel unstable while walking, discuss this with your doctor. He (or she) may suggest an assisted device, which includes canes and walkers. If you currently use a cane, make sure the rubber gripper tip on a cane is unworn.
These are just a few suggestions that may help you to take a proactive approach to preventing falls. Depending upon your specific needs, you may want to talk to your doctor, physical therapist, or other health care professional. They will be more than willing to help you to 'customize' an individual plan of action to prevent falls.