As I write this, a fellow RVer is on the way to the hospital. She fell. Not outside. Not on her RV exit steps. No, she was inside the RV at the time. Falls happen, especially as we age. There isn’t a way to turn back the clock. However, there are helpful tips to avoid falls and RV longer.
Easy ways to avoid falling (hopefully)
As we age, our muscles can become weaker. Bones often become brittle. Add to that the fact that reaction time is often slower and you have a perfect recipe for a broken hip! What’s more, a fall is often more deadly in an older person because it takes longer to recover.
Keep in shape
- Muscles. One way to reduce the probability of falling is to keep muscles strong. Physical work and/or working out with an exercise program can help keep muscles supple and powerful, even as we age. Concentrate on exercises that focus on strength, balance, and flexibility. A health professional can suggest a workout program that’s best for you.
- Bones. Talk with your doctor about scheduling a bone density test. The doctor may suggest you take calcium supplements to build up your bones. (I had such a difficult time choking down the enormous calcium tablet prescribed by my doctor. When I mentioned this to him, he suggested I take a calcium chew, like Viactiv, which is so much easier!)
- Reaction time. You can improve your reaction time through cognitive training exercises. Online programs like Lumosity or CogniFit have games and activities to improve your reaction time and brain flexibility. You can also improve your reaction time by playing video games, learning to speed read, performing eye exercises, and more. Ask your doctor for suggestions that are best for you.
Get your RV in shape
- Lighting. If your coach or trailer is an older model, consider replacing existing lights with LED lights. You can’t avoid a hazard if you can’t see it! In addition to brighter bulbs, place nightlights in the hallway and bathroom(s) for better visibility at night.
- Eliminate trip hazards. Falls can happen, no matter your age. That’s why it’s important to remove loose rugs, clutter, and electrical cords from the floor. Use non-slip mats or rugs with rubber backing. Pay attention to thresholds between rooms and slide-out transitions. Work to make any uneven floor surfaces as smooth as possible.
- Grab bars. Install grab bars near the toilet and shower. Put handrails on both sides of your interior and exterior RV steps. These aids provide stability and support while moving around the RV.
- Wear appropriate footwear. It’s important to wear comfortable, properly fitting shoes with non-slip soles. Shoes and slippers should fit snugly to remain securely on your feet, especially when ascending and descending steps.
- Organize. Store frequently used items within easy reach. This eliminates the need for a step stool. Store heavier items at waist level to prevent strain when reaching or lifting.
- Ban clutter. Keep living areas and walkways clean and clutter-free to minimize the risk of tripping. Keep commonly used items in easily accessible spots that are not obstructed by unnecessary objects.
Outside the RV
- Safe spotter. If you must use a ladder, be sure to enlist the help of a spotter. This person can steady the ladder and hand and/or take items you need so you don’t have to climb up and down the ladder.
- Step stool. If you have difficulty reaching the fifth-wheel hitch, use a step stool or telescoping ladder rather than climb up and attempt to balance on the truck tire. Ask for help if you feel unsteady or uneasy about performing chores around your rig.
- Slow down. Falls are often avoided simply by taking your time. Remember! There’s no prize awarded for being the first to hitch up or unhitch your rig.
- Keep it neat. Just like removing clutter inside your RV, do all you can to ensure the outside of your rig remains clutter-free. If possible, keep hoses close to the RV so you don’t trip over them. Arrange chairs and other outdoor items to allow for open walkways. Provide a designated spot for toys, sports equipment, and other camping gear.
- Vision and hearing checks. Poor vision and hearing can contribute to falls. Have regular eye and hearing exams to make sure you have the appropriate corrective measures and devices.
- Hydrate. Dehydration can lead to dizziness and instability. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay properly hydrated.
- Medications. Some medications can cause dizziness or drowsiness, increasing the risk of falls. Review medications with a healthcare provider and be aware of any potential side effects.
Can you list additional tips to avoid falls and RV longer? Please comment below.