11 Steps to Prevent Outdoor Falls: Learn How to Stay Safe Outdoors
We all love spending time outdoors, but it's important to stay safe. According to the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention, one out of every three adults aged 65 and older falls each year.
The implication of that statistic is as dire as it is frightening because it points to the fact that one of the biggest dangers that seniors can face is falling. Now, this might not seem so serious for younger folks. Still, it is a serious issue for seniors because falls often result in serious injuries, including broken bones and head injuries.
Sadly, some of these falls occur outdoors when the seniors take walks and such. We dont want you to be a statistic. In this blog post, we will be discussing 11 steps that you can take to prevent outdoor falls and stay safe while enjoying the great outdoors.
Why You Are Susceptible To Falls
So why are seniors susceptible to falls. As we age, our bodies change, and we become more susceptible to falls. Bones get weaker, muscles get smaller and less toned, balance deteriorates, and vision and hearing decline. These often irreversible changes make us more likely to fall.
And in addition to the physical changes that come with ageing, there are also many medical conditions that can increase your risk of falling. These include Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, diabetes, osteoporosis, arthritis, and visual impairments. If you have any of these conditions or are taking medications for them, talk to your doctor about effective ways to prevent falls.
How To Stay Safe Outdoors
Walking is a great way to exercise, but it's important to walk safely. Follow these tips to prevent falls
See Your Doctor
This is extremely important. If you are on any medications like antidepressants and sedatives, for instance, the effects of these medications can cause you to fall. So does seeing a doctor help?
Consulting with your doctor about the medications you are on and how they might affect your walk is key. Then, depending on the situation, your doctor might recommend some other medication that does not interact with your body in a way that might cause a fall.
Be Aware of Your Shoes
It is equally important that you wear comfortable shoes with great traction and fit your feet well. Now is not the time for high heels and flip-flops, so avoid them no matter the occasion you are going outdoors for. Flip flops might look good when walking outdoors, but the thing is that they don't have the required traction that you need. We recommend that you opt for going on walks with flat-heeled shoes that come with non-skid soles. The risk of slipping is greatly reduced thanks to the special soles traction.
Always Tie Your Shoelaces
Now, this might sound like what you would tell a four-year-old kid, but you'd be surprised that many falls had happened when seniors refused/forgot to do this. So regardless of how short the distance the outdoor trip is, always tie your shoelaces. If you are not quite up to the task, you should get your caregiver to do that for you. It is actually caregiving 101
Get an Assistive Device
Some of the more popular assistive devices out there are walkers or canes. We recommend that you use them where necessary. They are especially great for situations where you are recovering from an injury, having balance issues or some senior mobility issue, or not feeling as sprite as you used to. Besides their support, they can also help you negotiate rough terrain a lot more easily.
That said, you must bear some things in mind when using a walking cane, for instance. Always try to look straight ahead while ensuring that the tip is not carrying any rubble.
Take It Easy
Except by some miracle, you signed up for a walking contest for seniors,you should always take outdoor walks easy. Walk at a slow, steady pace. If you are out with a caregiver who might walk at a faster pace,dont be too shy or afraid to call their attention to it.
Always stay aware of your surroundings. This allows you to identify any potential hazards like uneven
surfaces, holes in the ground, and traffic.
This ties into the tip above. You must be careful when you have to do certain things like crossing streets and intersections. Once you know the situation, the next step would be to apply caution.
Lookout For Signs
Your body will always let you know when it is not up for a walk or has had enough. So if you feel light- headed at any point or you feel like you are about to fall, take action immediately by sitting down or lying down until that feeling passes.
Do The Stretches
Stretches help warm up your joints and the rest of your body. So it would be best if you did some stretches before and after going for walks.
Avoid getting dehydrated because it can cause dizziness and fatigue, leading to a fall. So when you are outdoors, pay attention to your hydration levels. If you feel the need for a drink, get one ASAP.
Avoid Ice and Snow
Walking on ice and snow can be a lot trickier for seniors than it is for younger folks. So if you have to walk outdoors when there is a lot of ice and snow, we recommend that you use a de-icer to keep the paths you will be on clear.
Despite these tips that we have shared, there is some chance that a fall might still happen. So if you experience any falls while walking, seek medical attention right away. Falls can cause serious injuries, so it is important to get checked out by a doctor.No matter how minor the fall might seem. There are complications like fractures that might continue to lurk in the background for some time, only to degenerate and cause life-threatening issues later.
Please visit the CDC website for more information on preventing falls while walking.