Prevent Falls with Inexpensive Home Modifications, From the July 2015 Harvard Health Letter

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Many fall hazards are right in people's homes. But inexpensive fixes at home can help prevent falls and injuries.

Most falls are preventable. But every year, more than two million people wind up in the hospital because of these accidents, which are a leading cause of injury and even death among older adults, according to the July 2015 Harvard Health Letter.

"Anything that might trip a person is going to increase the risk of a fall. People with a balance disorder are often unable to recover when they trip because they lack the agility and coordination to do so," says Dr. Steven Rauch, a hearing and balance expert at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary.

Simple home modifications can help reduce the risk of falling. In fact, research has shown that inexpensive fixes at home can help reduce fall-related injuries by about 25%.

Modifications that make a difference include

  • removing floor clutter and throw rugs
  • rearranging the furniture to improve the flow of foot traffic
  • installing handrails along indoor and outdoor staircases
  • installing grab bars near showers, bathtubs, and toilets
  • improving lighting in hallways, stairways, and outdoor walkways
  • installing night lights to illuminate the way to the bathroom at night
  • adding nonslip mats and treads to bathroom floors, outside decks, and outside steps.

These home modifications are generally inexpensive, ranging in price from a bit of elbow grease to a few hundred dollars.

Read the full-length article: "Low-cost or no-cost home modifications to avoid falls"

Also in the July 2015 Harvard Health Letter:

  • The benefits of going meat-free
  • What to expect during cognition screening
  • How much fluid does it take to stay hydrated?

The Harvard Health Letter is available from Harvard Health Publications, the publishing division of Harvard Medical School, for $20 per year. Subscribe at or by calling 877-649-9457 (toll-free).


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Kristen Rapoza
Harvard Health Publications
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