Be careful of falling this winter

Help prevent a fall this winter by staying physically active

According to the National Council on Aging, every 13 seconds an older adult is seen in an emergency department for a fall-related injury. Due to snow, sleet, rain, wind and black ice Michigan winters cause falls and injuries to be more prevalent. We are so lucky to live in a beautiful state, but it can be hazardous if we aren’t mindful of our surroundings in the great outdoors.

Mindfulness is thinking about what we are doing at the present time: Therefore, don’t scurry around without thinking of your steps. Watch were you are walking. If there has been close to freezing temperatures and drizzle outside, chances are we will find black ice. This is when the street looks damp, but you cannot see the ice until you step on it and perhaps take a serious fall.

To be inactive over the winter is detrimental to our health. Walks and fresh air are very good for our physical and emotional health. There are actions you can take to help prevent a fall or make yourself a little safer.

  • Check your Balance. If you don’t have good balance try an exercise program. Exercise is not always for losing weight, but for strengthening your bones and muscles, and most important to keep you more alert! Find an exercise program through Community Education, Area Agency on Aging, or the Extension offices in your county.
  • Communicate with Your Health Care Provider: You may want to talk to your physician about an assessment on falling. If you know you may be a high risk for falls, then perhaps use a supportive device such as walking sticks, canes and tracks on the bottom of your boots in the winter time.
  • Review your Medications with Your Doctor or Pharmacist; They will know if the medication causes side effects that affect your balance. Take medication only as prescribed. Your pharmacist or physician know best when and how to take your medications.
  • Get Your Vision and Hearing Tested: Your eyes and ears are key to keeping you alert and on your feet. If we have cataracts we will not see snowed areas or black ice. We might be walking without seeing a car approaching us. If we don’t hear the car and they put on their breaks, then skid because of snow, chances are we will be hurt.
  • Keep Your Home Safe: Increase lighting outdoors. Make sure your steps going out are salted along with the path to your mailbox. Don’t run because you are cold. Be careful (mindful) of the weather and use the proper boots and clothing.
  • Ask Help from Family Members and Friends: You are being pro-active and sensible when you ask someone to clean your driveway or walk. If you walk outside, especially in the winter have a phone and better yet a friend to walk with.

Michigan Winter Wonderland is for us to enjoy. We won’t enjoy it if we are sitting on the inside due to the fear of falling. For our physical and emotional health we must exercise in some way. Walking outside with the proper safety devices, and warm clothing is one of the best exercises to do in Michigan.

By walking 30 minutes every day you will help your health. 80 percent of diseases are preventable and walking helps. It is a natural miracle medication. When you walk you have a greater chance of fighting disease :

  • 43 percent less chance of breast cancer (men and woman)
  • 41 percent greater chance of reduction in arthritis
  • 55 percent less chance of Alzheimer’s
  • 58 percent greater reduction in Diabetes
  • 47 percent greater reduction in hip fractures
  • 44 percent greater reduction in depression
  • 47 percent greater reduction in anxiety

The above information is from the organization Walk with a Doc. The above statistic makes me want to walk during the spring, summer, fall and winter! How about you?

For more tips, visit the Michigan State University Extension website

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