Fall Prevention Tips for Spring and Summer’s Warmer Weather 

Spring, at long last, is finally here and we’re longing to be outdoors. We want to take advantage of walking and gardening, not only because our physician recommends these activities for our well-being, but because we also enjoy them. Staying safe will ensure we’ll continue to enjoy them all year long! 

Recently we invited our partner for home health and therapy services, Ken Fabugais, who owns Triune Home Health Partners, to provide insight and information about fall prevention for seniors during warmer weather.  Ken is a physical therapist with years of experience and understanding about the eagerness of seniors to enjoy the outdoors.  His goal is always to advise caution and checking in with your physician before beginning exercise and/or increasing movement. 

After all, during winter months there’s been a slowing down and there’s a need to increase activity gradually, and correctly, for safety’s sake.  Sometimes physical therapy may be necessary for a short period to evaluate and build strength and endurance.  Senior capacity changes with every passing year, according to Ken. 

Medications can affect seniors in many different ways; over time changes occur and need to be monitored and reported to physicians. Spring is a great time for a visit and overall check- up. Many times your doctor will identify a change with your help and may prescribe therapy. Therapists are necessary to help find new ways to move. They can provide specific exercises gentle enough for seniors but designed to create new strength. Simply put, while we need to continue our meds, there are better ways to continue our ability to move. Therapy can help! 

Once your physician gives the go-ahead, and even if you’ve completed therapy sessions, there are several additional considerations for fall prevention during warmer weather. Following are obvious, but may be over-looked, conditions that should command our attention when outdoors this season. 

  • RAIN and MUD are as dangerous as snow and ice!  Water from puddles tracked inside– on a kitchen floor, an entrance to a restaurant, store or church– can create a slippery surface anywhere, so beware! And be careful! Slow down, walk around, be observant of the path in front of you. Mud is as slippery inside as it is outside, where it is often brought in by shoes. Clean shoes of soil and mud and wear only those that have the best traction. Soiled shoes create mud when they walk through water! (More on shoes further down this list.) 
  • STORMS bring down tree branches, sticks, and other debris in your usual walking path that probably weren’t there yesterday. Again, if you can’t see a clear path in front of you, choose another way. Don’t step over, step around. If your yard has even small sticks and debris, these should be cleared away to prevent tripping. If you are not able to bend safely or use a pick-up tool, consider asking neighborhood children to help. 
  • FLOODS are hazardous to walkers as well as drivers! A flood for a walker–even one using a walker or assistive device– can be just a few inches of a deep puddle or overflow from a street onto a sidewalk after heavy downpours. Best advice:  monitor weather predictions, storms come up suddenly in warmer weather.  Stay indoors till it’s dry again. 
  • WATCH where you’re walking because a terrain can change overnight! Holes created by critters in lawns, rocks thrown in, something hidden in taller grass, anything can cause a trip that results in a fall. Gardeners often forget to put away small shovels or hand rakes or clippers that can hide in the grass, too! Make it part of your routine to round them up! 
  • ALWAYS CARRY A WATER BOTTLE!  It’s essential to stay hydrated! The increased exercise, the walking a little further each time, combined with any medications you may be taking, can cause dehydration more quickly than you thought! Seniors are more at risk for dizziness/lightheadedness due to dehydration, which can lead to unexpected falls. Take a break, and a sip! 
  • DON’T GET OVERHEATED! This goes right along with keeping hydrated and drinking water, and watching weather forecasts. When the temperature is predicted to rise by early afternoon, be sure to change your routine to early morning or early evening when it’s cooler. Wear light colors. Stay off asphalt. When it’s hot outdoors even early morning, stay indoors. Wait, don’t risk! It won’t stay like that forever! 
  • SHOES MATTER! Let everyone else be fashionistas—wear safe and sensible shoes! Sandals, backless shoes, leather soles are not the friends of seniors. Slippers on the street are hazardous, even if you’re just going to the mailbox.  

Be sure you have wellfitted walking shoes with soles that can provide traction. It may be time to visit a podiatrist who can help identify the best  safe and comfortable shoe. Also note where your shoes are wearing out, as this is a warning sign. Your balance may be off. Worn shoes can also create imbalance. Either way, you’re at risk for a fall. You may need a physical therapist to help correct your balance. 

Seems like a lot to remember, but really it’s more about thinking and planning ahead. Soon enough, all will become habit. We just need a little patience as we age—and a lot of prudence! So enjoy the warm weather, safely! 

For more information about therapy services available for residents at Residences Senior Living, contact us 1-800-557-9176 or visit https://residencesseniorliving.com/therapy-short-term-stay/