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Sharp Health News

Safety tips for older adults

Feb. 23, 2016

Safety tips for older adults

Ensuring the best quality of life as we age can improve both mental and physical health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an adult 65 or older dies from a fall every 20 minutes in the U.S. These safety tips can help protect you from potential danger at home, outdoors and while exercising.

At home
You may feel the most at home in your own house, but many trips, slips and falls happen there.

  • The kitchen and bathroom are the two biggest culprits of causing falls. Only buy non-slip mats and remove clutter from the floor. Install grip rails in the bathtub or shower and next to the toilet.
  • Fix or tape down fraying carpet and area rugs to prevent slip-and-fall accidents.
  • Keep the hallways lit at night, in case you need to get up for any reason.
  • If you have pets, keep all feeding bowls in a corner of the room to avoid accidentally tripping over them.

Outdoors
Sun protection is especially important to protect your scalp and other exposed areas. In addition:

  • Wear natural fibers such as cotton to avoid overheating.
  • Keep your eyes covered with sunglasses. Vision loss is common as we age, and sun exposure can cause more damage.
  • Apply bug spray to avoid encephalitis, a viral infection that can cause flu-like symptoms.

During exercise
Most of us are aware of the importance of maintaining regular exercise at any age. The benefits of physical activity for older adults, however, can be limited due to a variety of factors such as limited mobility or chronic health issues. If you are new to exercise, it may be a good idea to check in with your doctor before you embark on a new program.

If you are an otherwise healthy older adult, Michelle Milles, a behavior change expert and health coach at Sharp Health Plan offers advice for exercise safety:

  • Start slowly, with low intensity, and be sure to warm up first.
  • Drink plenty of water before, during and after your workout, and pay attention to breathing. People have a tendency to sometimes hold their breath, which can affect blood pressure.
  • Always be aware of surroundings, especially if walking or jogging. An uneven sidewalk can be the right setting for an injury.
  • Finally, to avoid injury, strength training can be very helpful to build strong bones. For those who are already injured or have some weight-bearing limitations, swimming or water aerobics may be a better choice.

Sharp Rees-Stealy offers a low-cost, three-course fall prevention series in La Mesa, Rancho Bernardo and downtown San Diego. For more information about falls and prevention, visit the CDC website.

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