Tuesday, May 7

How to protect yourself from falling outside your home?

How to protect yourself from falling outside your home?

Even with precautions taken at home, the external environment is fraught with potential dangers leading to hazardous falls. Given that falls contribute significantly to fractures, head trauma, and injury-related fatalities, especially with advancing age, it's crucial to understand how to navigate safely beyond your doorstep. Here are strategies to prevent falls in various public settings.

In stores, smooth floors can pose a slip and fall risks. Wear footwear with nonslip soles and consider using support aids if balance is a concern. Supporting yourself with a shopping cart, store-provided electric scooter, or rollator can provide stability and opportunities for rest during shopping trips. When reaching for items, maintain caution, as reaching above shoulder height may compromise balance. Utilize techniques like standing with one foot forward and one foot back or seek assistance when needed.

In bustling places like airports, malls, concert halls, or theaters, you might find yourself amidst crowds, increasing the risk of collisions that could lead to a fall. To protect yourself, consider walking with a partner or using a rollator for stability. The rollator can also serve as a warning to others to be cautious around you and give you space,

When visiting parks or playgrounds for a stroll, jog, or with children, be wary of uneven terrain that heightens the risk of falls. Watch out for areas where different surfaces meet, such as the transition from a parking lot into a mulch playground. Ensure you wear appropriate footwear, such as sneakers with deep treads or sturdy hiking boots.

Regarding public staircases, if you feel unsteady on stairs, it's advisable to avoid them and opt for an elevator if available. If stairs are unavoidable, proceed with extra care, considering they may not match the dimensions you're accustomed to at home. Always grasp the handrail, move slowly, and in dimly lit areas, use a portable flashlight or smartphone with a flashlight app to illuminate your path.

Public bathrooms are notorious for their wet, slippery floors, often leading to falls. Additionally, these facilities commonly suffer from poor lighting and low toilet heights.

Enter bathrooms cautiously. It's advised to keep your phone with you in case you require assistance getting up from a low toilet seat.

If bathroom lighting is insufficient, you may need to utilize your phone's flashlight. Whenever possible, opt for the handicap stall, equipped with grab bars and a higher toilet.

When traversing a wet floor, proceed slowly, keeping your feet pointed slightly outward for increased stability.

As for parking lots or garages, while it's beneficial to park farther away for exercise, refrain if you have endured or joint issues heightening your fall risk. Instead, park nearer to your destination and consider obtaining a handicap placard if necessary.

Avoid parking too closely to other vehicles, as this can impede safe exiting, particularly for those using assistive walking devices. Provide yourself ample space to maneuver, especially when turning or sidestepping between vehicles, to minimize the risk of falling.

In office buildings, hazards akin to those at home abound, including stairs, slippery floors, clutter, poor lighting, and loose rugs. Additionally, the presence of escalators, ladders, scaffolding, and construction areas elevate fall risk.

Remove potential hazards from your workspace, such as clutter and lengthy cords, and promptly report any fall risks to management.

When visiting an office building, move deliberately rather than rushing. Conduct a thorough inspection for potential fall hazards and navigate accordingly to avoid them.

Consider how weather conditions influence your risk of falling. Preparing for the weather before heading out is crucial for maintaining balance and preventing falls.

In hot and sunny conditions, dehydration can lead to feelings of overheating or dizziness, increasing the risk of falls. Wear a hat, carry a water bottle, stay hydrated, and seek shade or air-conditioned areas when possible.

During rainy or icy weather, the risk of slipping escalates. Wear appropriate gear, including non slip shoes. "You need supportive shoes with good anti-slip treads. Consider rubber or spiked shoe covers that you can pull over your sneaker or boot soles," recommends a physical therapist.

In conclusion, balance training is essential for navigating fall hazards regardless of your location. "Leg and core strength are key components for balance," advises the physical therapist. Additionally, maintain good vision, inner ear health, and foot and joint sensitivity. Seek physical therapy if balance issues are suspected.

If you're in good health, incorporate leg and core strengthening exercises into your regular routine, such as sit-to-stands, lunges, and leg lifts. Include balance exercises like standing on one leg or walking as if on a tightrope.

For further guidance on balance exercises, refer to the Harvard Special Health Report Better Balance.

Photo by @coldbeer
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