Many ways to prevent falls among old folk

A questionnaire will not help reduce the number of falls among the elderly ("New test to help assess seniors' risk of falling"; last Friday).

To do so requires a holistic approach and the public must do its part as well.

Too often, impatient motorists like to sound their horns at the elderly when they are struggling to cross the street.

This blasting of horns makes some elderly people panic and, while rushing, some of them may lose their balance, hurting themselves in the process.

Motorists should exercise patience in letting the elderly complete their crossing, even if the motorists have right of way.

At pedestrian crossings, it is also common to see impatient motorists failing to give way to the elderly.

The elderly are vulnerable because of their poor eyesight, hearing and reflexes.

Bus drivers should also brake slowly because the elderly cannot balance properly if the bus is jerky.

If we fail to exercise compassion and empathy by hastening the elderly to walk faster, they may fall or aggravate any underlying chronic illnesses that they may have.

The InterContinental Hotel should also consider leaving its entrance open for elderly pedestrians ("Hotel's mall entrance shut to public"; last Friday).

Before its closure, I saw many old folk using the hotel as a shortcut after their prayers at the popular temple in Waterloo Street.

One should temper the need for privacy with showing kindness to the elderly who use the entrance to shorten their journey.

As it is essential for the elderly to engage their mind and body ("Finding the right balance"; last Friday), healthcare providers should also train the elderly to walk backwards. This simple exercise is ideal for the elderly who have problems with their knees.

Above all, we must also correct the mindset of elderly folk who assume that growing older should go hand in hand with a decrease in physical activity.

Francis Cheng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 07, 2015, with the headline 'Many ways to prevent falls among old folk'. Print Edition | Subscribe