2014-09-25 / Senior Savvy

Take Steps to Prevent Falls

By Florence Archambault

One of the most frequent fears that seniors agonize over is falling. Some of us have already experienced incidents that have resulted in broken bones, sprains or bruises, often with lasting impact.

The National Council on Aging has declared the week of Sept. 23 – 29 as National Falls Prevention Awareness Week. Unfortunately, the home is where more falls occur than any other environment. But, most falls can be avoided.

There are many simple steps that can be taken to help avoid falls. Remove throw rugs and clutter and repair loose carpets that may cause you to trip. Wipe up any spills as soon as they happen and place furniture and electrical cords out of the way so they don’t obstruct walking areas.

Another safeguard is to keep your house well lighted. Use night lights or leave overhead lights on if you are accustomed to making midnight bathroom trips. Keep a flashlight with fresh batteries by your bed, along with a portable phone. Winter is coming and there will be snow and ice. Ask a relative or a neighbor to sprinkle sand or salt on slippery spots.

I learned two years ago, three days before Christmas, not to enter a room that is not lighted, especially if you have placed an empty tree ornament box in the middle of the doorway to take back upstairs. I tripped over the box and broke my wrist in several places. Ten years ago, I broke my ankle and can no longer wear dress shoes. So, I go to dressy affairs with my Dr. Scholl’s walking shoes (I have them in every color). Falls can certainly change your lifestyle and your wardrobe!

Other tools to use in preventing falls include grab bars, particularly in the bathroom. I recently installed two in my back hall doorway to help me get up just two steps that seemed to be getting a little precarious. It also goes without saying to use non-skid mats in the shower.

Health issues can also lead to falls. Review your meds with your doctor if you feel dizzy or lightheaded.

The Edward King House Senior Center, in conjunction with the East Bay Retired Senior Volunteer Program, is offering a four-week series in November, “A Matter of Balance Training: Managing Concerns about Falls.” Call the center at 401- 846-7426 for dates and times and to register. Tai Chi and other exercise programs offered at all the island senior centers are also good ways to help maintain balance.

Keeping active and exercising help you prevent falls but also lead to a sense of well-being.

Florence Archambault, of Newport, is 84 years young and wellknown for her community volunteerism and teaching and writing family history.

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