Wishing All Older Adults a Winter of Health, Happiness and SAFETY!
Have you set a New Year’s resolution? It is never too late. How many older adults made their resolutions focused on health and safety? Data would suggest that more should. The National Council for Aging Care reports approximately one-third of all elderly fall at least once a year, with the majority of these occurring in and around one’s home. The physical and emotional toll of these unfortunate events is tremendous.
While not all falls are preventable, many are. Several ways to prevent falls occur by addressing the many factors that may precipitate one from occurring. In the great words of Benjamin Franklin, and my mother, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
With winter upon us, risks for falls are even greater. Here are four important “R”esolutions for older adults to increase your safety, health and happiness in the New Year:
- Plan ahead and give yourself plenty of time. We all get hurried in our everyday lives and preparation will prevent unnecessary energy expenditure and fatigue.
- Monitor your surroundings and maintain clear pathways. Snow removal does not only pose a fall hazard, but also creates a significant strain on one’s heart, and should not be performed by all. Arrange for assistance as needed.
- Winter clothes tend to be heavy and restrict freedom of movement. Keep in mind these limitations with your everyday activities.
- Avoid walking on icy or wet surfaces. Consider having a well secured non-skid surface in your entry way, as many floor types become slippery from melting snow.
- Check your outdoor lighting to make sure it adequately addresses your entry way. Consider setting a timer to prevent any issues of forgetting to have it on when needed.
- Use crosswalks and curb cut outs. Watch for, and avoid, uneven surfaces, cracks and debris.
- Use railings for stairs if available. If your railing appears lose, a friendly call to a handyman may be in order.
- Do you have your cell phone? Put it away when heading out. Distractions such as these can result in missteps.
- Adapt your fitness routine. It is easy to become sedentary as the weather outside may be a limiting factor.
- Outdoor ambulation may not be possible due to inclement weather. Walking laps around an apartment or joining a walking club at a local mall may be your best option.
- Flexibility is equally important to strength and endurance. Consult a professional to learn proper stretching techniques.
- Have you been screened for osteoporosis? As mentioned earlier, not all falls are avoidable. It is important to do everything possible to prevent a fracture.
- See your physician for your annual physical. While you are there, review your medication regimen.
- Have your vision checked. A new pair of glasses can make everything clearer while also being stylish.
- As prescribed, use the correct assistive device. Many individuals require extra support on the uneven surfaces outdoors. Perform an annual check of the tips of your walker or cane and replace as needed.
- Watch your diet. Maintaining proper hydration and caloric intake is just as important in the winter as it is in the summer. Consider carrying a snack if you are diabetic.
From the RiverSpring family we wish all a Happy, Healthy and Safe 2019!
Vice President of RiverSpring Rehabilitation