So, you’ve popped open the umbrella, pulled on the galoshes, and donned the poncho. You’ve taken all the steps necessary to avoid getting wet … but have you given the same consideration to avoid getting injured?
Slips and falls are one of the most common means of injury among seniors, especially during the rainy season. In fact, they are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries among older Americans. Each year, more than one in four adults over the age of 65 will fall, resulting in 3 million emergency department visits.
The risk of falls increases with age due to slowing reflexes, weaker muscles, vision problems, and lack of balance. Certain medications can also increase the chance of slipping or falling, along with some medical conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease. Wet walkways and slippery steps create the perfect storm for sustaining an injury.
Luckily, you don’t have to take wet weather lying down. The following preventive measures can help keep you on your feet when it’s wet outside.
Start an exercise routine
It’s no secret that regular exercise improves balance and strength, two qualities that make you less likely to slip or fall. Options to consider include yoga and tai chi. These and other lower-body resistance exercises that strengthen leg muscles will provide a solid foundation to keep you upright.
Invest in quality footwear
It can be tempting to pop out to get the newspaper in your slippers, but improper footwear is a major cause of weather-related falls. Comfortable, slip-resistant shoes made for gripping wet surfaces are a must—even for a quick jaunt outside. Even the best soles wear down over time, so shoes should be replaced regularly.
Use assist devices
Handrails, grab bars, and other support systems aren’t meant to be decorative—they’re meant to keep you safe. Use them whenever possible and watch out for loose or wobbly rails. It’s also a good idea to keep your hands free when the forecast calls for inclement weather, so stash your keys and cell phone in your pocket or purse. Due to COVID-19 precautions, be sure you keep your hand sanitizer readily available for afterwards.
Keep your space dry
Keeping your home clean and dry is also key to preventing slips and falls. Invest in a quality doormat and be sure to dry your shoes thoroughly (or remove them altogether) before entering. Stash umbrellas, rain jackets, and other wet items outside if possible, away from walkways. Be sure to wipe up indoor spills promptly.
Be on the lookout for hazards
Wearing a mask to protect folks from COVID-19 transmission reduces your field of vision. Pay special attention to where you place your feet while wearing a mask. And be aware of these most common conditions for falling: transitions between dry and wet surfaces (for example, near eaves or overhangs), in parking lots (which may have standing water), and under leaves or in muddy grass.
Prevent rainy season slips and falls
Cumberland Village takes the safety of its residents seriously. The grounds are regularly maintained to remove standing water that can pose hazards to those out for a stroll. A little rain shouldn’t keep you indoors this autumn and winter. If you take the time to take a few precautions, you’ll weather the stormy season without incident.