Your mom wants to exercise, great!! Walking is the most natural exercise for our bodies so pick a place where it’s safe for mom to walk outside. Start with a location she is familiar with, like in her own neighborhood, on the sidewalk or streets, or maybe there’s a nearby park with a walking trail you can use.
When you’re walking in your neighborhood hone in on the condition and age of the street or sidewalk. Older neighborhoods tend to have sidewalks that are uneven due to settling or tree roots growing under them. If you’re going to walk in the street an “Off the beaten path” street with less traffic might be a better place to walk if the sidewalks aren’t in good shape. Should you decide to go to the park pay attention to the walking trail surface to make sure it is a smooth surface and doesn’t have any debris, uneven places or holes that might trip mom up.
Wear comfortable shoes made for walking. I used to buy any old pair of running shoes at the cheapest price. Then I went to a shoe store and got help, I was trying on 2 types of shoes, one for running one for walking. I didn’t realize what a huge difference in comfort there was. Since I mostly walk, the walking shoes were more comfortable for me. I also got the arch support insoles with them to add even more comfort.
Don’t let mom wear open heeled shoes, clogs, or sandals, they’re a fall waiting to happen. At the minimum she should have a strap across the back of the shoe. The bottom of her shoe needs to have a non-skid surface/tread of some sort so the shoe can get traction and not slide so easy. There are specialty shoes made with velcro straps that make it easy for seniors to put their shoes on.
If you’re using a walking cane make sure it is properly adjusted for you and of the correct type. While standing with your arms hanging down at your side, the top of the cane should be even with the crease in your wrist. A quad cane is not good for walking because it’s broad base makes it awkward to use.
If you live in a colder climate and have snow, pay close attention to ice on the path or walkway. When you are trying to find places where it’s safe for mom to walk outside in the winter, don’t forget that ice is hard to see even when you are paying attention and can cause a really terrible fall. Ice melting salts can be a lifesaving investment for juts a few dollars.
Watch out for sloped surfaces like driveways or inclines to pathways. It’s harder for your mom to see graduated surfaces unless they are marked/painted with high visibility colors. If your walking to or from your car in a parking lot, be aware of hazards like pot holes, rocks, accumulated dirt/sand. Parking lot dangers to also be aware of are unpainted parking stops and curbs.
Here’s a handy checklist to help you find a place where it’s safe for mom to walk outside:
- Make sure to check the weather outside and dress appropriately so you can take your time and enjoy walking. Don’t rush.
- Start with familiar surroundings close to home that have consistent, smooth sidewalks or streets. Or parks that have a walking trail.
- Wear comfortable shoes made for walking, no slip-ons or sandals.
- Some uneven surfaces are invisible to mom, keep an eye out for this. They can sneak right up on you.