Winter is prime time for people of all ages to slip, fall, and twist limbs on the ice, snow, and pavement. Many of these falls can be serious, leading to disability and death. More than half of these falls happen at home, and many happen at work and some can be prevented.
First, take this self-assessment for your potential risk for falling this winter:
*History of falling: two or more falls in the past six months.
*Vision loss: changes in ability to see and differentiate between objects, decline in depth perception, and decreased ability to recover from changes in light.
*Hearing loss: limited ability to detect hazardous situations.
*Foot pain or shoe problems: Decreased sensation, foot pain, or improperly fitting shoes.
*Medications: taking four or more medications that cause drowsiness, dizziness, or low blood pressure.
*Balance and gait problems: changes in balance, speed of walking, or weakness in lower extremities.
*Blood pressure: high or low blood pressure can cause loss of balance.
*Hazards within the home: poor lighting, bathroom safety, stairs, pets that get under foot, reaching, and spills.
*Hazards outside the home: uneven walkways, poor lighting, gravel on sidewalks, no handrails, oil on the pavement, pets that get underfoot when being walked.
Here are some tips you can use this winter to avoid falls and be safe:
*Keep emergency numbers right near your phone.
*Put a phone near the floor in case you fall and can't get up.
*Wear shoes with good support, and have non-slip soles. Avoid wearing slippers and athletic shoes with deep treads.
*Remove debris on the floor that you can trip on, including papers, books, clothes, shoes, and pet toys.
*Use double-sided tape to keep down scatter rugs.
*Remove furniture from traffic flow in the house.
*Clean up spills immediately with soap and water.
*Watch that your pets don't get underfoot.
*Don't walk over or around cords or wires. Coil cords and wires.
*If you have trouble reaching, keep important items within easy reach.
*Invest in a step stool with a handrail.
*Replace light bulbs that have blown out and change out lamp shades that give out glare.
*Make sure that hallways, staircases, entrances, and outside steps are well lit; have a lit switch at the top and bottom of each stairwell.
*Keep lamps, flashlights, and extra batteries near your bed.
*Put nightlights in bathrooms, hallways, and passageways so if you have to get up during the night, you can see.
*If you have carpeting on stairs, make sure it is firmly attached to the steps. The top edge of each step should be painted a contrasting color.
*Handrails that are loose or undone should be reattached and on both sides of staircases.
*If you have trouble getting out of the bathtub or off the toilet, install grab bars nearby.
*Use non-slip mats in the shower and bathtub.
*Use an elevated toilet seat if you have trouble getting down.
*Have your vision checked yearly by an eye doctor.
*If you have history of dizziness or vertigo, get up slowly after you lie down or sit.
*Use a cane if you have trouble walking.
*Consider purchasing an alarm device that alerts emergency personnel if you've fallen and can't get up.
Reference: Valley Business Journal
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