Diane Engel: Falling head over heels
In our region, we take winter weather in stride but it creates challenges for those of us who desire not to fall on the ice and break something. We tend to spend more time indoors in the winter, which creates another falling risk. So what’s a person to do? You can reduce your risk of falling by applying some simple measures.
For the outdoors, take smaller steps and slow down your stride. Keep the walk way clear of ice and snow. Use salt to prevent the ice from building up. If you are walking with someone else, use the buddy system to give each other support over an icy spot or go around. If you use a cane, use one with four-points or feet on it to also give some support. You can also use studded shoe wraps over your shoes to give you more grip.
Indoors, there are many ways to prevent falls. Remove scatter rugs from the walk ways. Many people are “attached” to their scatter rugs but if they cause a fall or injury, they are not worth having. You might walk over them a million times but as we age, we don’t pick up our feet like we used to, causing the rugs to bunch up and cause a fall. Also, bringing items you use most often within reach, down from the high shelves or up from the lower shelves. Bring the washer and dryer up from the basement to the main level. Install grab bars in the bathroom and shower. Keep pets from being underfoot. Many people trip over pets wanting food or love, rubbing on their legs or running through them. You should leave a 2½ to 3 feet. wide path in your home for walking. Remove extra furniture like coffee tables or extra chairs. Remove clutter from walkways. Don’t use step stools or climb on chairs to reach items. Purchase a reacher/grabber to help reach items up high or down low. Don’t carry heavy or bulky items that prevent you from seeing the floor where you are walking. If you can divide up what you are carrying into smaller loads, that would help with balance. Another good tip is to carry your cell phone in your pocket, even at home, to call for help in case of a fall.
Exercising can also prevent falls. Stand on one foot while brushing your teeth. Try standing up to get dressed. Use a chair to grab for balance if needed. Any exercises you can do to increase the strength in your foot and leg muscles and challenge your balance system.
The Senior Activity Center is in need of white copy paper, coffee, postage stamps, silverware, paper napkins and monetary donations. If you are able to donate, please drop it by the front desk as it will be greatly appreciated. You can receive a receipt for tax purposes. We also take donated greeting cards, craft supplies or jewelry.
Be sure to stop by the Senior Creations Gift Shop, Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. or on the second Saturday of each month from 8:00-10:30 a.m.. Check out what’s new or stop and buy a handmade card.
The Senior Activity Center is located at 216 3rd Street NW, Bemidji.
DIANE ENGEL is the Executive Director of the Senior Activity Center.