- Written by Nikki Puzzo and Joanne DiCamillo Nikki Puzzo and Joanne DiCamillo
Cooler weather gets people excited to decorate their houses for the holidays, go on walks or bike rides, or even prep to ski, snowboard, or take the grandkids sledding. But, the upcoming winter can be a dangerous time amid icy walkways and stiff joints.
According to the CDC’s latest data, over 300,000 older people are hospitalized for hip fractures each year — 95% of which are a result of falling — which means many will be injured and need to use casts, braces, and other equipment.
Older adults can be proactive with the recovery process if they suffer an injury this winter by utilizing some simple tips.
Rearrange the Home to Ensure Safety
It’s important to have new safety precautions set up in the home after returning from receiving medical care. Using stairs, reaching for certain appliances or foods in the kitchen, or turning on the lamp in the corner may not be as feasible as it used to be before surgery or crutches.
Ask for assistance in rearranging household items and clothes, clearing walkways, and even swapping bedrooms so these new daily hazards can be avoided as much as possible.
Keep a Positive Outlook
Being injured can take a toll on one’s attitude. But by not dwelling on how the injury took place, focusing on what is controllable, and having positive thoughts, physiological recovery can be quickened.
Psychologists have found that stressful or negative thoughts can make the body release alternative chemicals in the blood, like cortisol, in response, which can increase inflammation and the time it takes to recover.
So, the next time negativity creeps in, try to replace those thoughts by pondering what you can do with the extra gifted time to stay positive and productive during recovery.
Stay in Contact with Family, Friends, and Loved Ones
Have members of your close family and friends on hand to ensure you can quickly reach them when a situation arises.
People with strong social connections are less likely to experience depression or chronic pain as long as six to 12 months after an injury or surgery. If possible, having people lined up to visit you once or twice a day could help as well.
Zip through Injuries with the Right Gear
Some normal day-to-day clothes may not be suitable during injury rehab, especially if one has sensitive stitches, casts, braces, or other bulky medical equipment required to heal properly.
One of the most prominent injuries for older adults is a hip fracture, so instead of turning to sweatpants, leggings, or pajama pants that can be painful or difficult to put on, investigate options for adaptive clothing.
Some pants are specifically designed to be worn with medical gear and unzip and open completely on both sides of the legs. This allows users to put them on and take them off without pulling up through the legs like traditional pants. There are also shirts with magnetic or Velcro closures for easy dressing.
Follow Doctor’s Orders
One study from the American College of Preventative Medicine found that nonadherence to medical treatment regimens can cause 125,000 deaths annually and accounted for around 10% of hospitalizations.
The doctor may require you to take medicine, attend physical therapy classes, schedule follow-up appointments, and even do certain exercises/stretches at home on a regular basis.
To ensure a safe and quick recovery process, follow doctor’s orders closely. Creating a written schedule on a whiteboard can help remind you of the tasks that need to get done or what medicine to take and when.
Slow and Steady Wins the Race
It can be difficult to wait on a full recovery, especially when you must stray from your normal schedule. But it often takes weeks or even months on average to entirely heal.
According to a study published to the National Library of Medicine, the risk of reinjury is at its highest peak during the first six months after the initial injury.
No matter how much information you’ve consumed or how strictly you’ve followed the rules of recovery, nothing can aid the rehab process like time.
Even once you’re back to normal, take it slow and don’t rush into doing too much too soon. Continuing recovery exercises and stretches even after healing can help limit injuries from reoccurring as well.
befree is dedicated to improving lives by addressing the real, everyday challenges of people living with limited mobility, and to making adaptive and inclusive fashion that really works. For millions of people with temporary or permanent disabilities, getting dressed can be an ongoing daily hardship. For more information, visit befreeco.com.