Falls Prevention Awareness Week: From Awareness to Action

September 18, 2023
by Shivanti Kariyawasam, Manager, Programs, Research & Impact at Rebuilding Together National

During Falls Prevention Awareness Week (September 18-22, 2023), Rebuilding Together, in partnership with the National Council on Aging and Administration for Community Living, is raising awareness on preventing falls. This year’s theme is “From Awareness to Action.” 

Research shows that falls are the most common cause of injury in the home. Injuries from falls can often contribute to a person’s reduced ability to perform daily activities independently, an increased need for long term care and risk of earlier death. Evidence shows falls can be prevented by methods like home modifications - including installing better lighting, supports like grab bars and handrails. 

Many of our affiliates across the U.S. work directly with their local falls prevention coalitions, or collaborate with other professionals like occupational therapists, to support this important initiative. According to our recent national impact measurement evaluation study by an external evaluator, safety modifications (clearing tripping hazards, improving lighting, replacing flooring) made by Rebuilding Together affiliates reduced falls by 50%. Additionally, the majority of neighbors, who had previously (or almost had) fallen in the past did not fall again following repairs. 

Preventing falls around your home is as simple as completing these actions: 

1. Make sure walkways have good lighting.

  • Make sure outside entryways are properly lit so you can see where you are stepping.
  • Use a motion activated or plug-in night light in hallways for getting up at night.
  • Increase lighting to reduce shadows by using LED bulbs.

2. Widen or clear pathways within each room of your home.

  • Remove unnecessary throw rugs and clutter and pick up items from the floor.
  • Keep cords away from walking paths by coiling or taping them next to the wall.
  • Use a surge protector power strip to reduce electrical cords.

3. Add sturdy supports in your living spaces, including bathrooms.

  • Repair or replace furniture that isn’t sturdy.
  • Do not hold on to the sink or towel rack in your bathroom for balance. These are not designed to bear your weight. Consult with an occupational therapist or Rebuilding Together affiliate for grab bar options and installation.

4. Organize spaces to fit your needs.

  • Move heavy items or things you use regularly to easy-to-reach places, such as  locations at waist or shoulder height.
  • Have lights easily accessible from the doorway and the bed in easy to reach places.

5. Secure throw rugs and use non-slip rubber mats.

  • If using a rug, use double-sided tape or a non-slip backing to secure it.
  • Put a non-slip rubber mat or self-stick strips on the floor of the tub or shower.

If you are interested in learning more ways about making your home safer, please use Rebuilding Together’s Safe at Home Checklist. The checklist was developed to identify fall hazards, home safety and accessibility issues for homeowners and family members. It also includes solutions for safety as well.