By Milton Curtis, M.D.
If you had $100 for fall prevention, what could you do to get the most benefit to reduce your risk of falls?
Every improvement you make for your safety could be the one that prevents a fall that changes your life forever. Though you may not be able to do everything on the list, consider a few that are right for you. Even small changes can bring great rewards.
IMPROVE LIGHTING IN KEY AREAS
- Brighter lights for the entry, bathroom and stairways. LED lights are bright and save money over the long term. 100-watt LED 4 bulbs for $12.
- Night light or motion-activated light for the bedroom. Automatic Dusk to Dawn LED Night Light 4 pack for $7. LED Night Light with Motion Sensor $9.
- Grab bars for the bathroom especially near the toilet and the tub. Screw on permanent grab bars is safest. 24-inch ADA Compliant Grab Bar $24. 18-inch Grab Bar $20. 12-inch Chrome Bath Safety Grab Bar $15 to $16. Three grab bars of varying lengths may cost about $70 to $80.
- Hand rails for both sides of any stairs. Unfinished Hemlock Stair Hand Rail 10 feet for $50. Brushed Nickel Stair-Rail Wall Bracket 6 for 10 feet of rail $36. Total about $90.
IMPROVE BATHROOM SAFETY
- A hand-held shower. Chrome Hand Held Showerhead $36. Commonly available and are sometimes on sale.
- A shower chair in the bathtub or shower. Chair with back $40 – $50. Bench only $23 – $39.
- Skid resistant strips in the bathtub or shower. 18-inch Tub Treads 6 strips $5.
- Raised toilet seat. $18 – $32.
- Toilet safety frame. One manufacturer is McKesson with a cost of about $22.
IMPROVE KITCHEN SAFETY
- Grabber/reacher to avoid unnecessary high reaches or bending. There are many available for less than $20.
- Organizers for shelves and cupboards, so you can reach commonly used items easily without climbing or bending. There is a wide range from simple to complex, so consider finding out what would work best for you.
Many of the devices, supplies, and equipment can be found at a local hardware store, a big box store, or online.
The Senior Fall Prevention Initiative 501(c)(3) has a free tool specifically developed for seniors to help you evaluate your risk of falls at https://new.seniorsafetyscore.org. There is more information at http://seniorsafetyscore.org.