Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Walking the Floors

Mobility. However you are mobile, it's important to do it safely.

Of course most people are familiar with canes and walkers, but not a lot of people ever get the proper training in how to use these devices. I worked with physical therapists long enough to know that those walkers with 4 wheels and hand-brakes that everyone seems to have in assisted living are not all that safe. If a person has trouble with memory, they might forget to lock the brakes, and if they have trouble with sequencing, they might not be able to use the brakes properly. Because they have 4 wheels, they move faster, so the person might not be able to keep up.

My best advice: see a physical therapist to find out what will work best for you, and to make sure you know how to use your equipment properly.

Other safety tips:

  • Get rid of all the throw rugs. Even large rugs can be a problem, because we had one that would not stay in place, and this resulted in Mom's fall last Fall.
  • Make sure cords of any ilk (extension, phone, cable, computer) are out of the way. If you can shorten them and attach them to the wall, even better.
  • Promptly clean up spills, and pay special attention to greasy or slick spills. I had my own fall a couple of years ago when some greasy food was not properly cleaned up. The floor looked clean, but it was still very slick, and falling in front of 50 people was as bruising to the ego as it was to my knees.
  • Make sure furniture is placed so that there are wide pathways to accommodate a walker if one is used. Remember that furniture walking is never a safe option.
  • Nightlights are your friends. There are lots of varieties, so you should be able to find the right type for every location.
  • Carry a phone with you, or even better, install an emergency response system ("I've fallen and I can't get up"), so you can get help if you do fall.
These are just a few ideas to make mobility safer.

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