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Winter 2016: Senior Fall Prevention Tips

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has previously issued research that brought to light some alarming numbers related to falls of the elderly and their consequences. According to the research, more than one in four seniors fall at least once each year, and less than a half of them inform their doctor about it. To top it all off, one out of five falls causes a serious injury such as broken bone or head injury, that could result in further health complications or even become fatal. Of course, not all falls cause injuries, but even the psychological consequences thereof can be a burden (insecurity, leaving out certain activities, etc…).

There are many factors that impose a potential fall risk, especially on people with limited mobility such as seniors. One of the biggest and most uncontrollable factors is weather, especially in the wintertime. As much as we have no control over the conditions, we can prepare ourselves for them and significantly lower the danger of a fall. We want to make sure nothing will happen to our loved ones this winter, so that we’ll all be able to enjoy the holiday season no matter the weather.

High Quality Winter Footwear

Good shoes are considered to be one of the best investments we can make in our whole life. Especially when we’re talking winter footwear for seniors. No smooth soles, no heels, no plastic or leather-made soles. Skid- and slip-free rubber-soled boots that provide traction on snow are a must this season.

My personal pro tip are the L.L.Bean Boots (https://global.llbean.com/shop/L.L.Bean-Boots/506697). They’re famous for a reason.

Ice- and Snow-Free Walkways and Stairs

It is dangerous to deal with snow and ice on one’s own after a certain age, so make sure to offer help to your elderly loved ones when winter strikes. Keeping snow off the pathways and driveways around the house and salting the frozen ground surfaces will help to avoid slippery icing. The same goes for stairs. Speaking of which, the paths and stairs outside the house should be fixed, if needed, before the first snow falls.

Handrails Wherever Possible

Make sure that there are handrails installed in places where a senior is the most at risk of falling, such as stairs or paths with nothing to hold on to. Handrails can become the last resort for help if a senior loses his balance unexpectedly.

Layer Up

The more layers of clothing your loved one wears, the better. Thick warm clothing does not only lower the risk of hypothermia or frostbite, but it can also noticeably reduce the impact of a fall once it could not be avoided. All exposed skin should be covered up – especially hands and head/face. Just make sure that the field vision isn’t affected.

Cane adjustment

If your elderly relative owns and uses a cane to walk, take all the necessary measures to adjust it for wintertime — replace the rubber tip at the end either with a new one that isn’t worn out, or, even better, add an ice-pick attachment such as this one for added stability and traction: Cane Ice Tip Attachment (https://www.amazon.com/Cane-Ice-Attachment-Fits-canes/dp/B003BQY03I)

Keeping Their Own Pace

Whether you’re going for a walk, accompanying a senior for grocery shopping or taking them to their doctor’s appointment, always make sure to have some extra time on your hands. Being in a hurry and creating stress can result in unnecessary loss of awareness, panic and consequential injury. Always allow your senior loved one to keep her own pace and don’t hurry. I know it’ll get difficult, especially during the stressful time that the holiday season tends to be. Just always remember that health and safety of your relatives must stay in first place at all times.