One of the main concerns for any 50+ persons which includes many of us baby boomers, is a slip and fall. These can cause not only severe injury often taking months of hospitalization and therapy and ruining your sense of independence they can even result in death. Complications can arise too resulting in a real struggle and lost of your regular quality of life. Stay living own your ow and out of assisted living.
Many boomers may think this does not apply to them – until it does! Please pay attention now because we are talking prevention here. It does apply to you. Just recently two friends of mine, females ages 65 and 66 had falls which landed them in the hospital and both will be in rehab for months. One broke her hip and the other hurt her shoulder badly. This hit home with me and prompted me to write this article
Although accidents can happen at any time and for any reason, knowing how to properly assess and prevent these types of incidents go a long way in helping us boomers stay independent and healthy for many years.
Here are a few steps boomers and seniors should take in determining not only their risk but also in prevention.
- Learn what health issues may already put you at risk of a slip and fall injury. If you have health conditions which may affect the lower limbs, joints, or balance such as osteoporosis, arthritis, diabetic neuropathy, or any other disorder affecting the way you move you will need to see your doctor to assess your risks. You may also already be taking medication which may cause dizziness and further the risk of a fall. This is another risk you should discuss with a physician.
- Tidy up your home and remove anything which may prohibit easy movement through the house. This will ensure there are no obstacles on the floor that may cause a trip or slip hazard. Also try to make things in the home easily accessible to avoid movements which may cause accidents.
- Get moving and you will increase your balance, strength and flexibility which go a long way in preventing not only a slip and fall accident but also decrease your risk of many ailments. There are quite a number of senior designed exercise programs in solo or group settings to take advantage of and not only will you stay fitter, you will have fun as well. If you are on Medicare, there is a program for gym membership called Silver Sneakers you should look into.
- Always wear good fitting shoes that provide comfort and proper support to keep your balance and posture strong and upright. When in the home, you can also wear socks and slippers designed with a non-slip sole to keep you from slipping on non-carpeted surfaces. Avoid slip on shoes or ones with thicker soles as they can either be too loose or cause balance problems which can lead to a fall. (one of my friends who fell had on flip flops.)
- Brighten up the home by keeping shades open during the day and making areas well lit during the evening. You can also place nightlights in areas such as hallways, kitchen and especially bathrooms. I have put in led nightlights with motion detectors (available from Home Depot) in my bedroom and bathroom. These steps will assist in providing well lit areas so you can find their way around and avoid obstacles even for those with slightly impaired vision.
- Consider home improvements designed for “aging in place”. This new concept centers on the idea of making home improvements to assist seniors living in the home, aka making your home more livable. Some are rather easy, others require expensive remodeling. Examples of this type of improvements include handrails in bathrooms, walk-in showers and tubs, widening door openings to allow for easier access and even handicapped accessible entryways to the home. For those on a budget, you can simply place nonslip pads in showers and bathroom floors; use rug grippers to prevent slipping, and have someone help you install a handrail in the shower.· Of course you could move to a 55 plus community which are have homes or apartments already build with livable design.
It is vastly easier to prevent accidents that to mitigate the problems after one happens and although no accident is fully preventable, you can better your chances of avoiding a slip and fall injury by taking these few steps to not only better you environment but also your health. Boomers here’s to making our golden years the best possible and the hopes of living independently for many years to come.