5 tips to avoid falls, including over your pets

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Ron Smith Maricopa
Ron Smith

Most of us can’t live without our cats and dogs, but sometimes they literally just get in the way.

About 85,000 people suffer nonfatal injuries each year due to falls involving pets. About 88% of those falls are attributed to dogs. Not only do our pets get entangled in our feet when we are walking or carrying stuff, but their toys and accessories create more opportunities for tripping.

Tip: The National Institute on Aging says “know where your pet is whenever you’re standing or walking.” Limit toys laying around by regularly picking them up. And if you’re going to carry a bulky item, such as a laundry basket, put your pet in a closed room where it will be out of your way.

Speaking of laundry baskets, moving laundry around creates its own special opportunities for falls. Most of us living in Arizona don’t have to deal with carrying laundry baskets down stairs to the basement to do our laundry, but those that live in a multi-story dwelling might have to deal with stairs to do their laundry.

Tip: Consider a laundry bag or a wheeled laundry basket instead of a bulky, hard-to-manage laundry basket that might obscure your feet when walking.

When selecting washing machines and dryers consider the ergonomics of loading and unloading the units.

Tip: Consider whether a front door model easier to load and unload, or would a top loader be better? If you have an adequately sized laundry room, add a table or a folding surface to assist in sorting and folding laundry in place.

Dryer lint traps and dirty exhaust ductwork can present a risk of fire.

Tip: Clean your lint trap after each use and hire a professional ductwork specialist as necessary to clean ductwork. If you notice your dryer taking longer than normal, it may be time for an inspection and possible cleaning.

Reaching upper shelves for supplies or the upper bars on the dryer rack can present a danger as well.

Tip: Select a sturdy, non-slip step stool with a grab bar to hang on to for safety. Sometimes a reaching tool can be used to retrieve a lightweight object from an upper shelf without resorting to the climbing dangers of a step stool or ladder. The room should have a smoke alarm and If you are using a gas dryer be sure to have a carbon monoxide detector.

(Source: AARP HomeFit Guide at aarp.org/homefit.)

Ron Smith is a Maricopa resident and an aging-in-place advocate. He is also a member of the Age-Friendly Maricopa Advisory Committee and a member of the Maricopa Senior Coalition.

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This column appears in the October issue of InMaricopa magazine.