10 ways to safeguard against falls

Published: May, 2013

How strong are your bones? You may have no idea — until a bone breaks when you push on a stuck window or bend down to pick up something you've dropped. Or worse, take an unexpected tumble off a curb or trip over an extension cord.

One of the critical goals of managing bone-thinning osteoporosis is to prevent the fractures that can threaten independence, steal mobility, trigger depression, and result in pain, disability, or even death. These 10 simple steps can help safeguard your bones.

  1. Clear your floors of clutter and any items that you could easily trip over, including loose wires, cords, and throw rugs.
  2. Keep stairways, entrances, and walkways well lit, and install night lights in your bedroom and bathroom.
  3. Clean up spills immediately.
  4. Wear rubber-soled shoes for better traction. Avoid walking around in socks.
  5. Avoid having to climb or reach for items. Keep the things you use often in easy-to-reach cabinets. You might also purchase reaching and grasping tools to get at difficult-to-reach items.
  6. Add grab bars to your tub, and use nonskid mats on bathroom floors.
  7. Be careful when pets are nearby. Tripping over a pet, most often a dog or cat, is a common cause of falls.
  8. Talk to your doctor about whether any medications you are taking can cause dizziness, affect balance, or have other side effects that might make you more prone to a fall.
  9. Find physical activities, such as tai chi or yoga, that can improve your balance, coordination, and muscle strength.
  10. Have your vision checked regularly and keep your glasses and/or contact lens prescription up to date.

For step-by-step instructions for easy, effective workouts that will improve posture, increase muscle strength and speed, sharpen reflexes, expand flexibility, and firm your core, get the Harvard Special Health Report Better Balance: Simple exercises to improve stability and prevent falls.

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