The autumn season in Buffalo can present some beautiful and colorful foliage, but the changing weather may also present safety hazards, especially for older adults.
According to the National Council on Aging, falls are the leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal injuries for people over the age of 65. Slips and falls account for more than 95% of the 300,000 hip fractures that occur in the United States each year.
7 Ways to Keep Your Balance
Joseph Baumgarden, physical therapist and doctor of physical therapy, part of our Home Care team in Niagara County, has a few proactive tips to prevent falls this autumn.
Be Aware of Slippery Surfaces
It’s important to be aware of the surfaces you are walking on at all times. Be sure all walkways are clear of fallen leaves, which can become slippery when it rains.
As the weather gets even cooler, snow and ice can pose further risks for dangerous falls. Snow covered surfaces can be uneven and, if left untreated, can hold hidden dangers beneath them like ice or other objects.
Wear the Right Footwear
Appropriate footwear will help reduce your risk of a slip and/or fall. Avoid boots and shoes that have smooth surfaces on the soles and heels. Instead, wear comfortable footwear with non-slip rubber or neoprene grooved soles. This will provide you with extra traction.
When you drive, you keep your eyes on the road. So when you walk, pay attention, too. A number of falls occur when people distracted by cellphone use when walking.
Plan Ahead and Go Slow
When possible, give yourself extra time to get to your destination. Use extra care when getting in and out of vehicles and buildings, and keep on designated walkways that have been cleared of snow and debris. Take the extra time to safely navigate walkways, and try to enjoy the beauty of the season along the way.
Lighten Up Your Living Space
As summer transitions to fall, the days will get shorter and the nights longer. With less daylight, older adults may be at risk for unexpected falls. Be sure your home is equipped with plenty of light sources. Consider adding nightlights and installing a handrail and non-slip mats can also help prevent dangerous falls in bathrooms.
Walk Like a Penguin
Walk with your feet slightly toed out and shoulder width apart. Take smaller steps at a slower pace with your knees slightly bent. Try to spread your weight equally throughout your feet.
Know How to Fall
Knowing how to fall correctly can help reduce your risk of injury. If you start to fall, try to relax your muscles. Avoid landing on your knees, wrists, or back. Wearing thick clothing can help to cushion your fall.
Get Help for Serious Falls
Falls can happen to people of all ages and for a great variety of reasons. However, the older we get, the more brittle our bones can become, so the severity of injury from even a simple fall can be more debilitating.
If you do fall and experience any lasting pain or discomfort, be sure to schedule a visit with your primary care provider. Additional follow-up may be needed with a physical therapist or an orthopedic specialist. Call 447-6205 to find the right provider for you.
Find a Orthopedic Specialist Near You
Call (716) 923-7153
Find an Orthopedic Specialist Near You
Call (716) 923-7153