Don’t Stumble and Tumble
It’s important to prevent a fall, especially for seniors. A fall can have very bad effects on your health and land you squarely in the hospital. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 25 percent of seniors age 65 and older suffer a fall every year. Annually, slip, trip and fall accidents among the elderly account for 2.8 million injuries and 27,000 deaths. Many suffer head trauma, hip fractures and lacerations due to a fall.
Look First! Plan Your Route!
When outside, especially in winter, look before you walk! Be AWake to icy conditions, broken pavement or cracked sidewalks. If a sidewalk or entrance you typically use is icy or packed with snow, find a different route that has been shoveled or treated for safe accessibility. Don’t hurry to catch the bus or beat the traffic when crossing the street. If you are uncomfortable on a surface or at an intersection, ask for help!
When you are indoors, you should still observe safety. Plan your route. Keep pathways lighted, look around before you walk and remove items in your pathway.
After dark, whether indoors or outdoors, carry a flashlight. This will make it easier for you to see what’s ahead. If you are carrying a flashlight you will be more visible to passing drivers.
Sturdy shoes that have rubber soles and fit properly are best for seniors. Seniors should avoid wearing flip flops, slippers, high heels and backless shoes. Do not wear shoes with slick soles. Even bare feet or socks can lead to slipping and falling, so it’s best to wear shoes as often as possible.
Throw Rugs and Other Hazards
Throw rug edges can curl and cause problems. Wet floors in the bathroom or kitchen are potentially dangerous, so clean up spills right away. Clear away clutter including misplaced furniture, electrical cords, pet toys, magazines, shoes, baskets and plants. Even bed linens can drag on the floor, bunch up and pose a risk.
Move It Or Lose It!
Many a fall among seniors is caused by muscle weakness. Seniors can combat this by doing strength-building exercises. Walking, swimming and dancing are examples of exercises that build leg strength while improving coordination and balance. Start some strength training. Having strong muscles improves your balance. In addition, improved strength will ward off age-related muscle loss, keep bones strong, promote mobility and function, prevent falling, and even help combat depression and cognitive decline.
Know Your Limitations
At your next doctor visit, ask him/her to check your vision and hearing. As we age, poor vision and hearing may also contribute to fall risk. You may also want to ask your doctor about any medicines you take which have side effects that might make you light-headed or drowsy further adding to falling. Finally, if you are thinking about starting an exercise program, talk to your doctor first and get a referral for a home exercise program.
Have a Happy and Safe New Year!