Reducing Fall Risk in the Bathroom

According to new data from the CDC, an estimated 234,000 people were treated in U.S. emergency rooms in 2008 for injuries that occurred in the bathroom. Four out of five of the injuries were due to falls, and almost one-third of adults age 64 and above in the study were diagnosed with fractures. Among adults age 85 and older, 38% were hospitalized due to their injuries.

While it is not possible to prevent all falls—and you should never claim to do so—there are steps you can take to reduce fall risk. The CDC recommends these steps to reduce fall risk in older adults:

In the Bathroom:

  • Add non-slip surfaces and grab bars inside and outside the tub or shower to reduce slips and falls.
  • Install grab bars next to the toilet for added support, if needed.

General Precautions:

  • Exercise regularly. It is important that the exercises focus on increasing leg strength and improving balance, and that they get more challenging over time. Tai Chi programs are especially good.
  • Ask their doctor or pharmacist to review their medicines—both prescription and over-the counter—to identify medicines that may cause side effects or interactions such as dizziness or drowsiness.
  • Have their eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year and update their eyeglasses to maximize their vision. Consider getting a pair with single vision distance lenses for some activities such as walking outside.
  • Make their homes safer by reducing tripping hazards, adding grab bars inside and outside the tub or shower and next to the toilet, adding stair railings and improving the lighting in their homes.

Here are more resources from the CDC on reducing fall risk and injuries from falls:

Falls Among Older Adults

Costs of Falls Among Older Adults

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