HomeDressWinter Safety Starts Now - 11 Steps for Preventing...

Winter Safety Starts Now – 11 Steps for Preventing Elderly Falls

It’s easy to slip and fall in the winter’s icy and snowy conditions. This is particularly troublesome for the elderly who are often less stable on their feet and struggle more to recover from a fall.

Luckily we can take measures to prevent winter falls by following these safety guidelines (and helping elderly loved ones do so too).

1. Make sure that steps (and ramps) leading to the home are stable and have sturdy railings.

2. Wear properly fitting shoes and boots with non-slip soles. Footwear should have plenty of tread to provide better traction on snow and ice. If you plan to wear dress shoes or heels, bring them with you and change when you arrive.

3. Seniors who use a cane should replace the rubber tip before it is worn smooth. They may also try using an ice pick-like attachment that fits onto the end of the cane to help prevent falls. These may be found at medical supply stores.

4. Keep walkways clear. Arrange for someone to shovel the driveway and walkways. Don’t risk a fall, call a professional or recruit neighborhood children hoping to earn a little money.

5. Maintain a good supply of ice-melt and scoop for easy spreading. It’s a good practice to carry a small container of road salt in your bag and car to sprinkle on icy patches encountered while out and about.

6. Avoid icy or snowy sidewalks. Only use walkways that are dry and have been cleared. Beware of black ice, which is just as slippery as regular ice, but difficult to see, making it a top winter safety concern.

7. Install timer lights outside. This is a good idea for security and fall prevention year-round but especially helpful in the winter, when it gets dark earlier and new fall risks are present (and often difficult to spot).

8. Make winter safety a priority. Allow extra time to reach your destination safely. Avoid short-cuts through snowy or icy areas. Walk slowly and carefully, keeping your eyes on the path ahead.

9. Don’t let your guard down. Fall risks don’t go away once you’re out of the cold. Be careful inside entrance-ways, where slick puddles often form from snow and slush tracked inside. Many falls also occur when exiting or entering vehicles. Always mind your footing when getting in and out of cars.

10. Wear gloves rather than stick your hands in your pockets. Keeping your hands free improves balance and allows you to hold onto railings.

11. Make use of home care.You don’t have to be sick to take advantage of home care resources. Utilize the resources available to help elderly residents with routine tasks and errands so they can stay warm and safe in their own home.

Unfortunately, falls are not entirely preventable and many people (of all ages) will end up taking a spill before the season is through. Therefore, it is also important to be prepared to react properly in the event of a fall. Seniors should carry a cell phone (and know how to use it), even if it is only for emergencies.

It is also important that elderly individuals visit a doctor after every fall, even if they don’t suspect an injury. A hairline fracture or other injury could worsen without treatment.

Acting now helps prevent elderly falls, as well as future troubles, and ensure elderly loved ones remain safely independent in the long run. Proper planning now will help ensure that everyone enjoys a cozy winter.

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