As we age, the likelihood of a fall increases significantly. While some falls are the result of an underlying medical condition, many are completely preventable. Starting with small and simple changes around the house can make an enormous difference. For example, the two most important things can be done today, at no cost: simply remove throw rugs and stop multi-tasking while you are in motion.

If it's happened to you, you are not alone: Falls are experienced by one out of three people older than 65 each year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The following tips will help you stay safer in your home:

Place furniture so that you have a clear and unobstructed path to and from common destinations within your home.

Choose uniform, rather than uneven, flooring for walkways.

If you have wall-to-wall carpeting, make sure it is secure and flat, without bunched-up wrinkles or raised areas. Be particularly cautious when walking between a carpeted room and a hardwood floor.

To reduce shadows, change out all light bulbs in primary fixtures that can safely accommodate them to 100 watts and add nightlights for those late-night trips to the bathroom.

Make sure all stairways have handrails and add properly installed grab bars to bathroom walls. Handrails placed near the toilet, bathtub or shower help counter balance issues when sitting and standing.

In the kitchen, forgo slippery floor wax. Also store frequently used kitchen items in cabinets and drawers that are easily accessible, at waist-high level.

On stairs, pay particular attention to the top and bottom, where it is easy to miss a step. Place a bright-colored, reflective tape or paint a bright, contrasting color along the edge of each stair not seeing the edge is the cause of many falls. Other options include adding stair treads and handrails on both sides.

If you or your loved one is unable to walk up and down stairs, consider adding a stair chair that electrically glides up and down the steps.

Clear any clutter on the floor that can be particularly hazardous for nighttime trips from bedroom to bathroom. Also make sure cords and wires are coiled or taped to a wall to keep walkways clear.

Sit when dressing or putting on shoes, even if you don't think you have any issues with balance.

Scheduled activities

Thursday: TOPS will meet at 8:30 a.m. Art class will meet at 10 a.m. Ambassador Singers will practice at 1 p.m. A double elimination snooker tournament will begin with drawing for position at 1 p.m. Prizes for first, second and third places awarded. Cost is $2.

Friday: Walking group will meet at 8:30 a.m. at Lee Richardson Zoo. STEPS exercise class is at 10:30 a.m. Check-in/out for the Craft Shop is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. St. Catherine Hospital will offer a senior health services nurse to do screenings from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Bridge is played at 1 p.m.

Saturday: Prairie Land Food pick-up begins at 7 a.m. The pool room will be open from 1 to 4 p.m. The building is rented.

Sunday: Duplicate bridge is played at 1:30 p.m.

Monday: Walking group begins at 8:30 a.m. at Valley View. STEPS exercise class is at 10:30 a.m. Humdinger Band will practice at 12:30 p.m. Bridge and double pinochle are played at 1 p.m. UpBeats Band will practice at 3 p.m. Duplicate bridge is played at 7 p.m.

Tuesday: Pitch is played at 12:45 p.m. Bingo is played for prizes at 1:30 p.m. Cost is three cards for 50 cents. Duplicate bridge begins at 1:15 p.m. Bridge is played at 7 p.m.

Aug. 26: Foot clinic appointments begin at 8 a.m. Line dancing is at 8:30 a.m. (call 272-3620 for more information about this or any exercise program). STEPS exercises are at 10:30 a.m. Pinochle is played at 12:45 p.m. The Sewing Group meets from 1 to 4 p.m. The Senior Citizens Association will host a dance from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. The band playing is "Calhouns." Bring cookies for the break.

Lunch menus

Lunch is served at noon.

Thursday: Roast pork with gravy, scalloped potatoes, three bean salad, citrus fruit cup, whole wheat roll.

Friday (Fresh Fruit Friday): Liver and onions or hamburger patty with rice, fresh spinach salad, angel food cake with strawberries.

Monday: Chicken fajitas, corn, tortilla chips, strawberry Bavarian cream.

Tuesday: Roast beef, mashed potatoes with gravy, California veggies, cherry crisp, fruit muffin.

Aug. 26: Sausage casserole, hash browns, creamy fruit salad, lemon bar, biscuit.

Driver safety class

Refresh your skills, save on insurance! The Senior Center is offering the AARP Driver Safety Training class from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Sept. 8. Sign up at the Senior Center or call 272-3620 to hold a place in class.

Brenda Meyers, a certified AARP instructor, will be leading the class. Cost is $12 for AARP members (must show card) or $14 for non-members; payment is made the day of the class.

Visit the Senior Center Web site at