Falling is not a natural part of aging. If you know and manage your own risk factors you can live a full and active life without fear of falling. Following are some tips from the Ohio Department of Aging:
As the temperature starts its downward trend, and the days get increasingly shorter, it's time to start thinking about autumn and winter falls risks and how you can eliminate or reduce them.
- Leaves, branches and other debris from trees due to the change in seasons can make walkways slippery or hide tripping hazards, like uneven surfaces, edges and steps. Keep walkways clean, and if you can't see that the surface is clear and flat, pick another path.
- If winterizing your home includes cleaning gutters, changing light bulbs or other tasks that require you to get up high, use a step ladder or a step stool with a handle, and maintain three points of contact (two feet and a hand, or two hands and a foot) at all times. Do not climb on chairs or other furniture that was not designed for that purpose.
- Shorter days mean less direct sunlight and less sunlight overall, meaning you may need more light to get around your home safely. Invest in extra lamps, nightlights and exterior pathway lights to make sure you can always see where you are walking, especially around doorways and stairs. Use the highest-wattage bulb recommended for your fixtures.
- Don't let the cooler weather and shorter days limit your activity. Exercise that builds and maintains strength and balance is important to prevent falls year-round. Ask your doctor or physical therapist about indoor exercises that can help you maintain strength and balance when you can't venture out.
- As the temperature drops, bundle up to stay warm, but make sure you can see in all directions and move easily and freely.
- Keep shoes and walking aids (canes, walkers) free of dirt and mud. Dry them off immediately upon coming in from wet conditions. Remember, wet shoes are just as dangerous as wet floors.
Whether you are taking the "grand-ghouls" out trick-or-treating, or indulging in some adult fun this Halloween season, make sure your "trick-or-treat" doesn't become "TRIP-for-Treat."
- If you'll be accompanying little ones on beggar's night, carry a flashlight and watch for uneven sidewalks, curbs, debris and other tripping hazards.
- Fancy dressing is what Halloween is about, but avoid costumes with long gowns, robes or capes that can snag on objects or get tangled up with your feet.
- Put on a scary face, but avoid masks that limit your peripheral vision and cause you to miss tripping hazards. Use make-up instead.
- That fabulous footwear might be the thing that sets your costume off, but sensible shoes will be less likely to send you tumbling.
- Your costume may fit your personality, but does it fit your body? Too loose, it can cause you to trip. Too tight, it can limit your movement.
- Accessorize for success, but avoid dangling bits of costume that can be tripped on and ensure that props you are carrying won't cause injury if fallen on.
- If you decorate your yard for trick-or-treaters, make sure walkways are far enough from decorations so that visitors don't trip on them, and are free of cords and debris.
- If you're going for that "big scare," make sure the area is level and clear of objects to prevent falls when people react.
- Know how alcohol affects your balance and perception, and drink responsibly.
- Eat a balanced, nutritious meal before partying or trick-or-treating to make sure you have plenty of energy and to help curb the urge for sweet treats, which can affect blood sugar levels and cause dizziness.