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OPINION: To avoid slips and falls, do the 'safety dance'

Columnist Wendy King says one wrong move can send you head over heels, so here are some tips to avoid the infirmary
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I’m not sure exactly why we, collectively as a society, spend so much time pretending we are not aging. We all are.

Sometimes we try to convince ourselves we are still young, with it, vibrant and capable.

Some days we actually may well be until the universe decides to give you a little reality check.

I came across a funny meme which was hilarious and yet pitifully true. It stated: “Remember when you could lay in one position for hours? Now, you have to rotate every 15 minutes like a rotisserie chicken or a hip hurts.”

This hit home because I messed up my wrist somehow. The only thing I can think is that, during the night, I flip-flopped like a beached whale. My pillow is exceedingly heavy, as is my comforter. I think I strained or sprained something from one wrong move.

I’m thinking we’ve all done it.

I got both my feet stuck in one leg of my pant legs once and toppled right over.

Scatter mats? Yeah, that’s a great name for them because they can scatter limbs across the floor on a regular basis.

Sometimes I laugh. Sometimes I cry.

I truly want to smack myself for the times I questioned aloud why older folks were always tripping and falling. They should have used their good leg to kick my butt for being so judgmental.

I get it now. It's all a big balancing act and its no laughing matter.

According to, falls among older adults is a public health concern worldwide.

And according to the World Health Organization (WHO), about one-third of older adults fall each year.

In Canada, falls are the leading cause of hospitalizations and injury-related deaths among people who are 65 and older.

Injuries from falls reduce older adults’ quality of life, increase caregiver demands and precipitate admissions into long-term care.

How many times have we heard about someone elderly breaking a hip and then health-wise its all downhill from there?

While young people tend to be staring downward at their phone screens, I find myself staring down looking for cracked cement, potholes and curbs that are too high. also has a few tips on how to avoid falls in the home.

In the bathroom:

  • Ensure that you have non-slip surfaces in the tub or shower
  • Install grab bars by the toilet and bath to help you sit and stand. Make sure they are well anchored. (Careful, I’ve been sent flying as the bar pulled off the tiles!)
  • Use a raised toilet seat, and a bath seat in the shower, if you need them
  • Wipe up moisture or spills immediately.

In the living room and bedroom

  • Reduce clutter. Get rid of loose wires and cords as well as any other obstacles
  • Consider using a cordless phone to avoid rushing to answer
  • Have good lighting throughout the house and install night lights
  • Make sure the path is clear between the bedroom and bathroom
  • Scatter mats are tripping hazards. Get rid of them or make sure they are non-slip
  • Move slowly out of your bed or chair. Getting up suddenly can make you dizzy.

In the kitchen

  • Store kitchen supplies and pots and pans in easy-to-reach locations
  • Store heavy items in lower cupboards
  • Use a stable step stool with a safety rail for reaching high places
  • Always wipe up any spills immediately to prevent slipping
  • Ask for help with tasks that you feel you can't do safely.

One the stairs

  • Make sure your stairs are well lit
  • Have solid handrails on both sides of the stairway
  • Remove your reading glasses when you go up or down the stairs
  • Never rush up or down the stairs. It's a major cause of falls.

Also, pay attention where your cat is as they love to race down stairs, in front of you, and preferably between your legs.

I have come up with a bit of a safety dance. I call it the waddle waddle side step.

It's basically walk like a penguin, side to side, and then when you encounter a staircase you turn sideways and go one step at a time slowly, but with grace.

I’ve not yet set it to music, but I should.

I’m going to add a cha-cha-cha for creative effect!

Not sure there is any remedy for the overnight, beached whale, flip-flop injury...

Pass the linament!