Winter is a season that can bring joy and excitement with winter holidays and snow activities. However, it is also a time for safety concerns, especially for seniors who may be more prone to falls and injuries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of four older adults falls every year, and falls are the leading cause of non-fatal and fatal injuries among seniors.
Falling on snow or ice can be especially dangerous. Therefore, it is crucial for seniors to know how to prevent falls and stay safe during winter. Here is a comprehensive guide for seniors to avoid winter falls.
Staying Safe this Winter
- Mind the shoes. Wearing proper footwear is one of the most important factors in preventing falls. The shoes should fit comfortably and have good traction. Avoid shoes with smooth soles, high heels, or open toes. Instead, opt for shoes with rubber soles and non-slip treads. Gloves with rubber grips can also help provide traction on slippery surfaces.
- Salt and shovel. Ice and snow can make sidewalks and driveways slippery, so it’s important to have them cleared frequently. Seniors who live alone can hire a professional snow removal service. However, if you’re able to shovel, use a good-quality shovel and break up the ice before shoveling. Always sprinkle salt on the cleared areas to prevent refreezing.
- Walk slowly and steadily. Walking on snow and ice requires a slower and steadier pace. Take small steps and avoid rushing, especially when you need to step up or down. Always keep your center of gravity over your feet. Use umbrellas or canes for balance if necessary, but avoid carrying anything heavy that could throw you off balance.
- Home safety. As you age, home safety becomes increasingly important. Make sure to clean up any clutter or obstacles in your living space regularly. Remember to use handrails while going up or down stairs, and avoid using ladders or step stools. Consider installing grab bars in your bathroom, especially near the toilet and shower.
- Stay active. Keeping up with regular exercise can help you maintain your strength and balance, which reduces the risk of falling. Try simple exercises like walking, yoga, or tai chi. It’s also important to stay hydrated and eat well throughout the winter months.
Winter falls are preventable, and with a conscious effort, you can stay safe and steady. Follow these tips to reduce your risk of falls, and remember to always be aware of your environment. Need additional help keeping your home safe from trips and falls? Reach out to your local HealthStar office for more information. If you do fall, don’t hesitate to seek medical attention. Always stay prepared and take the necessary precautions to ensure you’re safe and healthy all season long.