Today is the first day of fall. It is also the 10th annual Falls Prevention Awareness Day to raise awareness about how to prevent fall-related injuries among older adults.
The National Council on Aging (NCOA) reports that falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries for people who are 65 years and older. Falls threaten the safety and independence of older adults. With or without an injury, falls carry a heavy quality of life impact. The fear of falling can cause individuals to limit their activities and social engagements, which can increase the risk of falling due to the lack of exercise and interaction.
The fall season in the Upper Midwest brings brisk weather and beautiful colors. It’s a season that you may want to pull on your sweater and get outdoors. Why not check out the inviting and accessible walking trails offered at many Presbyterian Homes & Services (PHS) communities? Whether you are walking on a PHS trail or in a nearby park to stay active or just going to the store, you can take steps to reduce your risk of a spill when you’re out and about. Let these tips help you on your way.
Steps to consider before stepping out
- Your shoes may be your most important piece of attire so choose wisely. Opt for footwear with non-skid soles that lace-up for a snug and secure fit.
- Walk with a friend, family member or group so you can alert each other of potential hazards.
- When walking for exercise, consider going to well-maintained places such as an accessible walking trail, the track at a local high school, or the mall (just leave the credit card at home!).
- Take time to warm up before and cool down after walking to take care of your muscles and joints and reduce your risk of injury. Stretch, walk, cool down and stretch again.
Be aware of where and when you walk
- In the evenings, walk where there is plenty of light to help you see where you are going. If you see a tree ahead in your path, look for fallen leaves or those toe-grabbing tree roots!
- Look for changes in walkway levels including cracks, steps, and curbs.
- Stormy weather creates surfaces that are slippery when wet. Check your traction on what looks like wet walkways. Even the most seasoned walker can miss seeing that puddle or first patch of ice!
- Be sure you are wearing eyeglasses with the correct prescription. If you happen to stumble on what seems like air, it could be that your eyeglasses are not helping you see accurately the hazards on the ground. Wear sunglasses on bright days to reduce glare. Resist the temptation to talk on your mobile phone while walking. It’s important to keep your attention on your surroundings and be ready to react to potential hazards, like that speedy squirrel, bike or car. If you need to make or take a call, find a place to stop and sit.
The good news is that falling is not an inevitable result of aging. Whether walking indoors or outside, most falls can be prevented. Presbyterian Homes & Services (PHS) is committed to reducing the number of falls in and around its senior living communities through special programs, trained staff and well-designed apartments and community spaces. PHS Wellness Directors lead exercise and balance classes and therapists help create support plans that motivate residents to remain active and reduce their risk of falling.
We hope you can step out and relish the beauty of the fall without any falls. It only comes around once a year, so head outside, walk smart and enjoy!