What a joy it is to walk to my favorite food co-op here in Syracuse without having to dodge the ice patches. I know that many of my clients feel a new-found freedom in May as the risks of falls that come with winter has finally disappeared along with the snow.
Still, no matter what the season, falls are a major cause for bone fractures. And since many falls take place in the home, I suggest that you make fall prevention part of your spring cleaning routine.
All you need to do is take a quick overview of your home to see if you need to make any of the following environmental modifications that may help you reduce your risk of falls:
Does your house have the following to reduce your risk of falling?
• Nightlights or motion-sensitive lighting throughout home, both indoors and outdoors
• Adequate lighting in stairwells, doorways and along walkways
• Grab bars and railings as appropriate
• Non-slip mats in your bathtub and shower
• Skid-resistant material on your steps and stairs
Other tips for fall-proofing your home
• Remove any small area rugs
• Eliminate clutter: put books on shelves, clothes in a hamper, towels on a rack and shoes in the closet.
• Keep wires behind furniture (it’s getting harder to do with so many wires, but it’s very important!)
• Highlight edges of steps with bright paint or tape
• Wear shoes with non-slip soles that give support while avoiding slippers, flip flops and the like. I personally, however, like to walk barefoot when it is warm enough, as I use it as a mindful exercise to enhance body movement awareness.
• Keep a flashlight next to your bed.
• Take a few moments to stretch in bed and wake up fully before hopping out of bed.
As you review this list, I also recommend you think about what activities you can do to increase your balance, even as you age. Activities such as t’ai chi, qi gong, and yoga are excellent options, but even simple daily activities can help to increase your balance. For example, every morning I try to put on my left sock while standing on my right foot, and then vice versa. I also like to put on and tie my shoes one at a time while I’m standing, and I find it fun to practice getting up from the floor without using my hands when I am feeling fit.
What are some of the ways you get your body in balance?