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Fall Prevention Step 3: Watch Your Step and Wear the Right Shoes

Sandy has a doctor’s appointment at 10:00 am, but it’s already past 9:30 and it’s raining outside. If Sandy is late, the doctor will give away the appointment and it will be at least another week before Sandy can get another appointment. To get there on time, Sandy rushes down the stairs, throws on an old pair of shoes without tying the laces, and runs to the car through the rain. After the 25-minute drive, Sandy parks the car at the doctor’s office and jumps out. The parking lot is covered with potholes and curbs, but Sandy has just 2 minutes to get to the doctor’s office on the third floor. Expecting the elevator will take too long, Sandy goes up the stairs two at a time.

Does this scenario sound familiar? Everyone has those days where the clock moves faster than the feet, but Sandy is now at a greater risk for a fall. To stay safe and reduce the risk of falling, older adults need to be careful and wear the right shoes. Even though we can largely control our activity levels and eating habits, and how often we review our medications, we can’t always control the weather or the environment around us.

Sandy could have been safer – and be less likely to fall – by:

  • Walking down the stairs at home and to the car, then slowly climbing the stairs – one step at a time – at the doctor’s office;

  • Paying attention to and avoiding the potholes;

  • Stepping carefully around and over the curbs; and

  • Wearing shoes with good grip and support and tying the laces.

Shoes should have a wide, rounded heel with a sole that provides grip without sticking to the carpet. Foot care is important, too! When our feet are sore and swollen, have open sores or corns, or aren’t well taken care of, the way we walk can change. Take care of your feet and toenails by washing them in warm water, trimming nails straight across and not too short, and placing swollen feet on a stool when sitting.

Fall prevention requires attention from the bottoms of our feet to the tops of our heads and all around us!

What You Can Do – Seniors

  • Buy well-fitting, supportive shoes. Check out our new resource for selecting the right shoe!

  • Take your time and pay attention – it’s better to be a few minutes late than to have a fall!

  • Stick to safer public places: well-lit walkways, shoveled sidewalks, and stairs with handrails.

What You Can Do – Families and Friends

  • Remind your loved ones to slow down and watch their step.

  • Be patient. Be a good role model by allowing your loved ones to move safely – even if it takes a little longer.

  • Point out and report obstacles and potentially dangerous situations, like potholes and broken handrails.

What You Can Do – Professionals

  • Be flexible with appointment times. Give older adults a few extra minutes to arrive so that they don’t feel like they have to rush.

  • Assess the risk: ask your clients about the quality of their shoes, whether they feel dizzy or off-balance, and the last time they had their eyes checked.

  • Maintain a safe and age-friendly environment. Make sure hallways are well-lit and dry, install handrails on stairs, and provide chairs or benches where clients can sit if they need to rest.

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Email: a.schieck@publichealthgreybruce.on.ca

Phone: 1-800-263-3456 ext. 1270

Medical Disclaimer

The information contained on this website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding any medical condition, or before beginning any exercise program.

CONTACTS

For more information about how to prevent falls please contact:

Community Care Access Centre

310-CCAC (2222)

www.healthcareathome.ca

 

To learn about falls prevention programs in your community please contact:

The Healthline

www.thehealthline.ca

211 Ontario

Dial 2-1-1

www.211ontario.ca

 

Telehealth: 1-866-797-0000

For emergencies always dial 9-1-1

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