According to the CDC: “Every second of every day in the United States an older adult falls, making falls the number one cause of injuries and deaths from injury among older Americans.” A harrowing statistic from the CDC. While not all these falls occur in the winter, the ice and snow do create a hazardous environment that increases your risk of having a fall, especially if you aren’t being cautious. So how do YOU avoid becoming a statistic? We are happy to provide you with a few tips that can help to greatly decrease your chances of falling.
Balance Series Part 1: Prepare, and Be Aware of your surroundings
This advice may seem simple, but it is important to remember that when you are venturing outdoors, you should make sure to use a safe path that has been cleared and salted. Here are some steps to take when approaching potentially dangerous surfaces:
Test any pathways for ice before you step on them. Take slow shuffling steps
After scoping out the path ahead of you, don’t jump right in to your normal walking stride. It is always helpful to take small steps first to be sure you have good traction. Also, be sure to keep an eye out for puddles and slippery surfaces in the entrances of buildings or even your home.
Avoid carrying anything
If you can avoid carrying anything, it is helpful so your hands can be free if you do start to fall. You can use your hands to help you regain balance as well.
Wear proper boots or shoes
Wear proper boots or shoes with slip resistant soles; avoid leather or plastic soles. If you aren’t planning on wearing boots, try to think ahead to which of your shoes have the best traction. This can go a long way in helping to avoid slipping on tricky terrain.
Ask for help
Don’t be afraid to ask for help from friends, family, or caregivers when you know the path ahead may too dangerous or risky.
This is the first post in our balance series, where we hope to provide some simple tips that can serve as helpful reminders as you are travelling this winter.
This article was written by Heather Mack, PT, DTP, PCS, Clinical Manager at The Atrium. If you have any questions related to this article or would like to learn about the therapy and wellness programs offered at the Atrium, please call 814-535-5347 extension 4421.