Author:  Tom Zeiser, PT, DPT, CSCS, CKTP

Tips To Help SeniorsStaying active while we age is important, and the outdoors offer ample opportunities to exercise, socialize and more. To make the most of your time outdoors, take the following precautions to avoid outdoor fall risks, like uneven, cracked or difficult walking surfaces:

  • Use knee pads and kneel while gardening rather than bending at the waist
  • Utilize hand bars and grab rails for support
  • Avoid walking in the garden where plants are overgrown
  • Avoid distractions while walking:
    – Look down frequently to assess the path in front of you
    – Make sure your path is well lit and, if necessary, install solar lights around pathways
  • Pick up your feet while you walk, instead of dragging them
  • Walk in firm, flattened sand at the beach where the tide previously washed up
  • Stay hydrated
  • Stay under shaded areas on hot and sunny days
  • Sit down or take frequent rests, especially if you are fatigued and unstable
  • Avoid areas that are covered with leaves
  • Take precautions while raking:
    – Bend at the knees
    – Keep your neck and back upright
    – Take breaks
  • Use a cart to transport pumpkins and other decorations
  • Use an assistive device, such as a cane, or hold onto someone who is stable for support
  • Avoid carrying heavy items that can throw off your center of balance
  • Choose the right, supportive shoe for each activity (i.e. golf shoes with spikes) and avoid flip flops and slip-on shoes

A physical therapist can help seniors lower their risk of falls by reviewing their medical history, completing an evaluation and developing an individualized treatment program to improve strength, flexibility, balance, coordination and mobility. They can also recommend assistive devices, such as a walker or cane, if appropriate.

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