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Outdoor Safety & Fall Prevention Tips for Seniors
By Sharon Boschini

The Pennsylvania Long-Term Care Commission recently noted that the number of people over the age of 85 is expected to grow by 42% over the next decade while the general population will grow by only 2%. Our focus in this country is shifting to a concentration on the care and safety of our older population. Harvard Medical School research has concluded that the majority of illness and injury in our growing senior population stems from falling. Several reasons for this “fall-epidemic” in the older population are loss of traction, tripping, reflexes are slower, changes in muscle mass, diminished vision, taking more than 3 prescription medications, consuming alcoholic beverages and non-acceptance of age related abilities.

With Spring upon us, outdoor safety for our older citizens is a major concern. Certainly, being outside is one of the best medicines for senior citizens, especially after the recent long, hard winter. We all want to be assured that the older members in our family are able to safely go outside and enjoy the beautiful weather without the risk of falling or being hurt.

We can be proactive in assisting the elderly in our family to remain fall-free and safe when outdoors, by taking a few simple preventative measures.

  • Your loved one’s shoes should fit well, be comfortable and have a slip-proof sole.
  • Assist your loved ones in carrying their purchases from their car to their house.
  • Install or maintain level or even ground or decks for loved ones to walk on.
  • Throw rugs on decks, in doorways and on patios and decks should be removed as they are tripping hazards.
  • Make sure all railing is sturdy and securely fastened in place.
  • Outdoor areas should be well lit at dusk and dark.
  • Walking surfaces should have nonslip and reflective material in place.
  • Your loved ones should always keep a fully charged cell phone with them (and a charger too).
  • Keep an emergency kit in their house and in their car.

An emergency kit should consisting of the following: a hat, sun block, bottle of water, flashlight, umbrella, list of current medications, copy of insurance cards, phone numbers for health care providers, brief current health assessment with any current diagnoses, current photo, a snap towel (this is activated with water and provides a cooling effect when it touches the skin) and a first aid kit.

By following these safety tips, we can all enjoy the welcomed warmth and beauty of the outdoors that Spring and Summer provide.

Sharon Boschini is Owner and Director of Visiting Angels of North Hills Pittsburgh. For more information, call 412-366-4860 or 888-235-1205 or visit www.visitingangels.com/northhills.

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