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Safety at home

photo of a fruit or vegetable

and on the road

Although home accidents, such as burns and falls, are the main cause of injury among older adults, the good news is that most of these mishaps can be avoided.

Steps to avoid falls

When older adults have home accidents, the results can be devastating. Falls commonly cause fractures of major bones, especially the hip, leg, and spine. Older people who fall and break a hip seldom regain full mobility and independence.

Here are some tips to reduce your risk of falling:

  • Make sure your home is well-lit.
  • Remove clutter that might cause you to trip.
  • Pad any surfaces, like sharp counter edges, that could cause injury
  • Check your medications (some can make you dizzy).
  • Get your vision and hearing checked regularly.
  • Ask your doctor if you need a referral to physical therapy for an evaluation of your walking and to see if you need assistive devices.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Use a cane or walker if you feel unsteady.
  • Check your blood pressure regularly.
  • Wear comfortable, sturdy shoes.

Use this fall prevention checklist, watch our video, or read more about making your home fall-proof.

Assistive devices

Staying in your home may mean making some changes. You may need to use a walker, cane, or other assistive devices to manage your daily activities. If you have arthritis, you may need to make other modifications to your home.

Personal Emergency Response System (PERS)

When you sign up for this service, you are given a transmitter, which is usually worn around your neck or wrist. When you need urgent medical care, you activate the transmitter, and PERS automatically calls an emergency response center for help.

When you’re behind the wheel

Getting older doesn't mean your driving days are over. But if you start to notice that your reflexes are slower or your vision is not as good as it once was, you may want to consider some changes in your driving habits, such as driving only during daylight hours. You might also consider asking someone to drive you, taking buses or using community transportation services. Not sure? We can help you decide if the time is right to stop driving.

Reviewed by: Arthur Hayward, MD, March 2012
Additional Kaiser Permanente reviewers

©2012 Kaiser Permanente