Among older adults, accidental falls are the leading cause of injury, according to the CDC. Emergency room reports show that injuries related to falls include lacerations, hip fractures and head trauma. In fact, the most common cause of head trauma among all age groups is accidental falls.
You can reduce your risk of falling with a little preemptive action and precautionary steps. This doesn’t mean that you need to be overly fearful of falling; instead, it just means being aware of the problem and smart about avoiding unnecessary accidents. Here are five ways to reduce your risk of falling.
1. Avoid Cluttered Floors
Kids love to scatter their toys around the living room. In fact, studies have shown that parents who allow their kids to play with their toys in a messy fashion are more likely to nurture creativity in their kids. As long as the kids clean up afterward, it poses little threat.
However, if you’re over visiting the grandchildren, you can’t be expected to dodge every tiny Lego, action figure and marble. Just one tiny misstep and you could find yourself toppling. When you visit, ask the parents to limit the play area to one section of the living room so you—and everyone else—can walk freely. In your own home, make sure that you or your cleaning help picks up any items, such as magazines, newspapers or remote controls, which may be lying on the floor.
2. Avoid Treacherous Terrain
Avoidance of treacherous terrain is the most obvious way to prevent accidental falls, but sometimes you may not immediately identify such dangerous terrain. Here are some common ones that you may encounter in your everyday life:
- Muddy grassy areas – After a heavy rain or days of light rain, your yard may become extra soft. You could be taken by surprise if you think you’re planting your canes on firm ground and they sink unexpectedly.
- Black ice – Black ice is nearly impossible to see when it’s covering black asphalt. In very cold weather, stay away from sidewalks and driveways that may have a thin layer of ice over them.
- Frost heaves – The constant freeze and thaw of winter weather conditions sometimes causes frost heaves in sidewalks and pathways. If you must walk to your destination, keep your eyes on the ground and look out for these small bumps in the terrain.
3. Consider Wearing Crampons
Crampons were originally designed for mountain climbers and hikers traversing icy terrain. They now make crampons for everyday use, however, that are perfect for pedestrians who need to walk on icy surfaces. Crampons fasten to the bottom of your regular shoes or boots. They consist of a few straps, and the bottoms have small spikes in them that grasp the icy walking surface. If you have a pair of reliable winter boots, crampons might be a smart addition to them.
4. Install Railings
Medical supply stores and online retailers sell a variety of decorative hand railings that assist people in moving about their homes. These railings don’t need to be unattractive, and they aren’t limited to bathroom or shower railings. There are some very fashionable railings available that would actually be a nice enhancement to any home’s décor in any room of the house. If you find yourself in need of an extra balance point anywhere in your home, such as the bathroom, ask your handyman to install railings. If you lose your balance, you’ll be glad there’s something there to grab onto when you need it.
5. Limit Alcohol Intake
Retired persons with no job to go to and limited appointments outside the home often turn to alcohol as a means of entertainment or self-medication. The NCADD reports that 4 out of 5 seniors who seek help with dependence cite alcohol as their main addiction. Unfortunately, the effects of alcohol often include a reduction of motor skills, including walking and balancing. Seek ways to limit your alcohol consumption to just one or two glasses a day.
If you do experience a fall, make sure you report the incident to your physician or a loved one.
PS – Even if you don’t walk with a cane every day, having a HurryCane® on hand for when you feel you need more stability is highly recommended. The HurryCane® Freedom Edition™ folds up, making it easy to take with you anywhere. Of course, it can only help you if you have one, so pick one up today to get our best deal ever.
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