It’s that time of year when seniors must take extra precautions to avoid a fall. Dipping temperatures and inclement weather conditions increase the risk factors for falls—especially—in older adults. The good news is there are simple steps you can take to keep yourself safe!
Outside your home, make sure you have assistance when shoveling sidewalks and walkways. Lay adequate amounts of salt to prevent ice from forming. You can reduce your risk of falling by using assistive devices, such as a walker, cane, scooter or wheelchair. This is especially true when traveling over uneven surfaces, like a parking lot or driveway. Inside your home, you can avoid falling by securing loose carpet and clearing clutter around stairways and landings.
Falls are not always random incidents and often are attributed to undiagnosed medical conditions. Regular physician visits can provide testing to ensure side effects from medications, sensory impairments, walking with an unsteady gait, and the loss of sensation in feet due to poor circulation, diabetes, or other factors aren’t increasing your risk!
Most importantly, you can help to decrease the risk of falling by incorporating physical activity into your daily routine. Exercising helps strengthen social relationships, improve memory, prevents anxiety and depression, and reduces pain from chronic illnesses. An emphasis on strength, mobility and balance exercises are essential for sustaining an independent lifestyle.
What can you do to improve your strength, mobility and balance? Low impact aerobics and exercise classes are both excellent ways to build muscles, which improves your cardiovascular system by increasing your heart rate and breathing. And, don’t forget to stretch! Stretching and flexibility exercises help your body move easily. Stretching prepares your muscles by “warming-up” and “cooling down” during your exercise regimens. Yoga sessions or Tai Chi classes provide strength training because they focus on isolating and developing different muscles.
Don’t wait for a fall to occur. Be proactive and take steps to make your environment safer and your body stronger. Classes described above are available at local fitness centers and community centers. In addition, some senior living communities offer therapy and wellness programs that are free and open to the public. If you are unsure of your options, ask your doctor and family members for suggestions or referrals. Staying well translates to a longer, healthier life!
Editor’s Note: This article was submitted by Michele Sheets. She is the Marketing Director at Senior Commons at Powder Mill Independent Living, Personal Care and Memory Care.