Sidewalk Safety - Looking at the road SAFELY traveled.



Sidewalk Safety

The road SAFELY traveled.

Sidewalk safety is critical to our future... why? They give us access to our homes and are the backbone of pedestrian transportation. Especially if we do not park inside a garage. However even inside a garage, we follow some sort of path to and from our beloved doorways.

Home sweet home can become a scary place to enter and exit. With unsafe sidewalks and drives, our fate could be left up to the obstacles they leave.

As you already know, there are several types of surfaces for sidewalks and driveways. Couple this with various climates from coast to coast and worldwide.

When planning to build or resurface, talk with your hired help about the surface that will best serve you and your elderly members.

Remember, smooth is nice but can turn into an ice skating rink under the right conditions. And while rough may skin a knee here and there, the traction offered in icy conditions is well worth the payoff swap. Sidewalk safety is all relative when we are comparing a skinned knee to a broken hip.

Quick Tips for sustained Quality of Life!
  • Asphalt or cement drives and sidewalks must be kept debris free. As we age, our joints begin to lose awareness of even the slightest changes. This can stir the pot of a history of chronic ankle sprains or turns that damage this awareness (proprioception) earlier in life.

    Even a small pebble or twig can roll an ankle or stop a wheelchair or walker cold causing loss of balance, falls or spills. Keeping these areas swept, leaf blown, and snow shoveled will help to provide a level path for unsure, unsteady feet.

    Sidewalk safety can make or break you - literally!


  • Be aware of uneven cracks in sidewalks or drives. As it kid it was fun to avoid stepping on the crack so you wouldn't break your mothers' back... however, age begins to limit flexibility and strength. It is still a good idea to avoid the cracks but that sometimes requires an extra long step or an extra high step due to crack swells.


Cracks can be down right obvious or very subtle. When you've walked a few billion steps in your life, you automatically lift your foot only so high to take the next step. This can lessen with age, weakness and some diseases like Parkinson's. Even subtle cracks such as the ones shown in the picture below, can cause falls due to the height variance.

subtle cracks in sidewalks can cause elderly falls and the need for home health physical therapy

These crack swells can happen anywhere and are due to freezing in cold weather or tree roots growing as a nearby tree grows. The freezing issue can be controlled more by a properly installed sidewalk.

Tree roots are less controlled but seem obvious problem makers when planted by sidewalks. As the tree grows, the roots have a mind of their own.

Root growth can cause little or big ramps with pinnacle such as the one pictured below.

obvious cracks in sidewalks can cause elderly falls and the need for home health physical therapy

Roots can also simply elevate one piece of the sidewalk higher than the piece next to it - compromising it's safety. This can cause an unforeseen drop off that can be hard for a vision compromised person to detect. It can also cause a sort of step. Small enough to catch your toe... or large enough to be unmanageable walking or in a wheelchair. The obstacle presented depends on which direction you are coming from.

obvious cracks in sidewalks can cause elderly falls and the need for home health physical therapy

  • Keep the sidewalk edges maintained and fixed if they begin to crumble. This is best done by a mason or concrete specialist. They will be able to help you keep your sidewalks and drives safe.

  • Last but not least (and this list is not all inclusive!) Remember there can be cracks in your drive or sidewalk that do not alter the height of either side. However, the crack can be wide enough to trap a walker wheel or crutch or cane tip... beware - your sidewalk safety is in jeopardy! The picture below illustrates this well.
obvious cracks in sidewalks can cause elderly falls and the need for home health physical therapy

Keep your drives, sidewalks and steps (we'll cover more on steps later) clean, in good shape and they will serve you well. You need to keep clean :) and in good shape too so that you can literally stay on your toes and age in place safely!






RELATED PAGES:

Boost Sidewalk Safety With A Medical Alert System

Bathroom Safety

Home Safety - Room By Room

Medical Alert Bracelets Can Provide Home Safety For The Elderly

Find Solutions To The Hazards In Your Bathroom

Home Safety For The Elderly - Your Quality of Life Begins Here!

Home Safety For The Elderly - Your Quality of Life Begins Here!

Grab Bars Can Eliminate Falls








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