Falls are the biggest cause of disability in those mid-age and older.
The sense of balance weakens as people age and the risk of falling becomes an urgent issue for those mid-age and older.
By: Wina Sturgeon Adventure Sports Weekly, Published on Mon Jul 21 2014
Before we get into the five ways, here are two essential things to keep in mind.
First: Falls are the biggest cause of disability in those mid-age and older. There’s a reason.
The sense of balance weakens as people get older. However, most folks don’t know that regular balance training can reverse the effects of age. Search online for “balance workouts” to find helpful exercises and routines.
Second: While there are obvious slip hazards in winter, don’t ignore the summer slip hazards around the pool, in the garden and on your driveway when there has been a drenching thunderstorm. Slippery surfaces meet up badly with a decline in the sense of balance. A foot slips on a slick deck surface or a loose throw rug, and the upper body and other leg don’t react in time, and suddenly it’s a hard fall onto a hip or shoulder or head.
Here are five ways to lower the risk of falling, which truly is an urgent issue for those mid-age and older.
- Think about previous bruises.
Is there an end table or other piece of furniture that you’ve bumped into more than twice? If so, either move it or get rid of it. There are people who actually ignore the fact that they bruise themselves on the corner of the same piece of furniture several times a year.
- Put a traction layer on the slippery shoes.
Nearly everyone has a pair of shoes or boots with a sole so slick that it’s caused — or nearly caused — a fall. But you wear them because you like those shoes, or because they cost a lot of money. No need to get rid of them. Instead get a shoemaker to glue a non-skid layer onto the sole and heel. It doesn’t cost much, and it can save you from the ER.
- Put a traction layer on places where you’re prone to falls.
Ice melt is terrible for the environment, and you can’t always count on it melting every bit of ice. Use stair mats on three-step concrete porches. Use a larger non-skid matt as a path across the driveway to your car door. Bathroom tubs get slick if they aren’t scrubbed regularly; if you’re not a meticulous tub-scrubber, put down a non-skid mat. And don’t forget the trip hazard of some of these items in warm, dry weather.
- If you use a cane or walking stick, get a crampon.
A crampon goes over the rubber, or in place of the rubber tip. It’s like a cleat, with sharp points to grip on ice or slush. Every stick user should have one for wet or snowy weather. This also goes for people who are on crutches. With a crampon, you can go outside in slippery weather and feel a lot more secure.
- Get rid of throw rugs, runners and piles of stuff.
If you’ve ever tripped or stumbled over a wrinkle in a carpet runner or the edge of a throw rug or mat, or the throw rug caused a wobble because it slid — get rid of them. If you have anything that interferes with an easy traffic way from one room to another — a plant, a vacuum, a pile of papers — move them out of the line of traffic.
You can put even more effort into preventing falls. If a ladder or step stool wobbles, fix the wobble or replace the item with one with an even footing. If you have a stair mantle with objects that can be knocked down onto the stairs, remove them.
Look around your home and your immediate environment. Assess anything that may pose the risk of a fall and do something to remove or lower the risk. As you get older, you will thank yourself.