Mom often walks the trail around her town’s park. She was comfortable doing this alone until a large dog on a leash pulled away from its owner and charged her, almost knocking her down. This made me think about other potential hazards facing those of our loved ones who want or need to walk. If your loved one walks regularly, go with him and assess the route for dangers. Here are some things to look for:
- People: small children who aren’t aware of what’s around them, skateboarders, bikers, skaters, criminals
- Animals: dogs, wildlife, snakes
- Slip-and-fall hazards: tree roots, wet leaves, downed trees and/or limbs, acorns, standing water, ice, snow, uneven or broken pavement or sidewalks, gravel, loose rock, holes that aren’t easy to see, curbs
- Noise/Hearing: traffic noise, ear buds/headphones that prevent the walker from hearing what’s going on, hearing loss
- Lighting: street light outages, bright sunlight, lights from cars, moving in and out of shadow and sunlight, darkness
- Lack of traffic signals: no marked crosswalks, no signage, no buttons to push to allow pedestrians to cross the street
As caregivers, we can’t do much about most of these hazards. Here are things we can do:
- Be certain your loved one has a cell phone or emergency call device and nag him to take it with him everywhere
- Buy a flashlight that puts out a lot of light to use when walking after dark, along with a reflective vest
- Remind your loved one to carry identification and your contact information when he walks
- Contact his city or town and report street light and traffic signal outages, and request installation of pedestrian-crossing signs and pedestrian walk buttons.
What have I missed? Let me know by leaving a comment.