Canadian winters can be challenging! Cold weather and falls unfortunately often do often go together, and the results can be alarming, with a large percentage of emergency visits and hospitalizations due to winter falls.
Seniors are even more at risk than for falls in the snow and ice. So, how do seniors increase their safety and decrease their fall risk?
Stay Active – to strengthen muscles, maintain bone health, and improve balance.
Maintaining exercise habits through the winter can help muscle and bone health as well as balance, improving reaction time and minimizing the risk of falling. It can be tough to stay active if you’re stuck inside in the colder weather, but an indoor exercise routine including strengthening exercises can help to keep you fit. Some exercises you can try include standing at a counter to do knee bends, practicing balancing on one leg (with support nearby), marching in place, leg and toe raises, and standing and sitting from a chair. Consulting with a doctor or physiotherapist can also be a great idea to develop a complete exercise program.
Make Good Footwear and Clothing Choices.
Rubber soled shoes or boots with a non-skid surface and excellent traction can make a big difference when walking on slippery sidewalks. Adding spikes or cleats to your boots can also provide extra grip to help with icy surfaces. Bundling up to stay warm is important, but so is making sure that you can move easily and see in all directions.
Ask for Help – Walk with a Friend, Family Member, or Caregiver.
If you feel uncertain or worry that an area is particularly slippery, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Remember that walking is a great form of exercise, and walking with a friend, family member or caregiver means that you have company as well as help in case of an emergency.
Be Smart About Whether to Go Out.
If you feel fatigued, pushing your limits can put you at risk for a serious fall. Consider changing your plans or using delivery services if you don’t feel that it is a good time to go out.
Keep Walkways Clear.
Whether you do it yourself, ask for help, or hire someone, always ensure that walkways are clear of snow and ice to prevent falls.
Stay Connected with Others and Have a Safety Plan.
Carrying a cell phone or a fall alert device allows you to get help quickly if you do fall. Letting others know where you are and thinking about how you would get help in each situation can ensure that you don’t panic.
Assessing fall risk is just one part of an overall proactive planning process for aging. At Proactive Seniors we focus on ensuring that our clients know their own particular risks that may impact their ability to thrive and how they can best mitigate those risks to stay healthy, happy and safe longer. Please reach out if you’d like to discuss how we can help create a Proactive Plan with you or help you find the best place to live if home is no longer your best option.