Fall prevention: How to keep seniors safe during winter weather
The National Council on Aging (NCOA) reports that falls represent a particular risk to seniors. Emergency departments treat more than 2.8 million fall-related injuries in older adults every year. The rain, snow and ice that come with winter weather present a greater hazard to everyone, but many seniors have an even greater risk of falling based on changing mobility, side-effects from medication and the potential for declined sensation in their feet. Any or all of these factors can contribute to a fall. However, there are methods older adults and their families can use to prevent falls and injuries.
If you can avoid going out during or immediately after a storm, do so. When making social engagements check the calendar for weather and communicate to friends and family that as long as weather allows, you’ll be there, and if it doesn’t, you’ll take a rain check.
Clear the path
Shovel the walkways around your home or your aging parent’s home to prevent additional ice buildup and reduce the barriers to movement around the property. Use snow or ice melt, if available, to ensure surfaces are as clear as possible.
Seniors can prepare for the winter months by focusing on light to moderate exercise all year long. Maintaining key muscles will create greater stability for seniors who walk over snow and ice. Consider carrying a small plastic bag full of kitty litter in a coat pocket. The sandy texture of the litter is a great help for traction over slick areas.
Take it slow
Always, always take your time. If you must cross over an area of ice or snow that has not been cleared, grab a handrail whenever possible and take “baby steps” or “shuffle.” Rather than taking long strides, take tiny, deliberate steps to keep your center of balance focused. You’ll be less likely to lose balance and slip. If you’re traveling with friends or family, ask for a steadying arm, they’ll be happy to move at your pace.
Lace up your boots
Proper footwear can’t eliminate the possibility of a fall, but it can give you improved traction and grip, and keep your feet warm to boot. If you don’t already have a good pair of winter shoes, you can do quick and easy comparison shopping on many websites. Sorting by style, user ratings, size and color can make your search a snap! If brick and mortar is more your style, major department stores have a great resource in their shoe department to get all your questions answered.
If you or a loved one are considering senior living, visit one of our communities to get a taste of life at Holiday Retirement. Then, get in touch to explore what we offer our residents.