Senior Scene January 9,2016

I hope all the seniors out there have taken my advice from last week and resolved to examine their home environment for any “trip and fall” hazards, and addressed them accordingly. Safety within the home is only a partial solution to the prevention of falls.  This week I wanted to share some tips from “The Safe Living Guide” produced by the Public Health Agency of Canada that will allow you to safely get outdoors and get moving despite the less than desirable weather conditions of the season.  Here are some useful aids for walking:

  • A cane can be a handy aid for walking and stability, and these days they come in some very fashionable styles and colours. It is important to make sure your cane is the right height and that the rubber tips are checked every once in awhile to ensure they are still in good shape. Wrist straps can be attached to your cane to prevent dropping it, and a clip can be put on the cane so it will hang on the edge of a table, back of a chair, or on a walker.
  • Cane spikes fit over the end of your cane for extra grip on an icy day.       Spikes with four or five prongs are the best. Many spike attachments flip up or down as needed, and should be flipped up or taken off your cane when you enter a store or shopping mall as the spike can slip on floor surfaces.
  • Safety soles are anti-skid, detachable soles with studded treads that make walking safer in the wintertime. The safest design is a full sole that runs the entire length of the shoe or boot. These have to be removed when walking indoors, such as in a shopping mall, since they will slip on floor surfaces.
  • If walking for 20 minutes without help is a problem for you, an inside or an outside walker could be a worthwhile purchase. With a walker, you can go further, longer, and with some models you can even have a seat when you wish to take a rest. Many models also come with a basket for carrying packages and other accessories are available such as tote bags, trays, and cane holders.
  • Appropriate footwear is imperative. Comfortable shoes that provide good support can help to prevent falls.       Lower heels are easier on your feet and back, and are more stable for walking. Elastic laces are available to make laced shoes easier to get on and off. Warning:       slip-on shoes or slippers (without heels) can be dangerous; shoes with smooth, slippery soles can cause you to fall; and composition soles, such as crepe soles, can stick to carpets and trip you.
  • One of your best aids is your own voice. Do not hesitate to ask for help when you need it. Rather than struggle to maintain your balance while opening a door, smile nicely and ask someone to do it for you. Most people are delighted to be of assistance, and asking for help may well respond to someone’s need to be useful and fulfilled.

For more information about some of the safety aids available, visit a specialist in your local pharmacy or medical supply store. Take charge of making your life easier, more enjoyable and safer.