Fall prevention is a big part of what we do and I often write about it and provide various resources for more reading. I think I’ll do it again this time! Winter is in full swing right now and some winter specific ideas for fall prevention is always a good idea. So, for you caregivers out there or for seniors who want to get through the season healthy, have a read!
Keep the walkways, stairs and sidewalks free of ice. This may sound like common sense – because it is! However, there’s two reasons for it. Firstly, ice and snow are obvious contributors to slips and falls and therefore some solid shoveling and sand/ice salt over everything makes sense. Secondly and perhaps just as important, is the fact that many seniors tend to stay inside too much in the winter, fearing slips and falls. This can lead to muscle and equilibrium loss, which are the two other factors which can lead to slips and falls. Therefore, in the winter, if you can’t do it yourself, hire someone or ask a neighbour to clear things up for you so that you can get out safely and continue to exercise all year round.
Wear proper footwear. Old boots tend to have old rubber bottoms, which harden over time and become a lot slippier than when they were new. Replace those boots with something new with flexible rubber bottoms. Check the boots out online or at the store to see what their slip rating is. How often should you change your boots? I would think at least every two years. You can get a good pair for $100 or less and that is a lot cheaper than several weeks in the hospital!
Get some ice traction cleats for your boots and leave them on. I first saw these type of cleats in Europe but they are becoming more common here in Canada. I love them. The hardest part of them is putting them on so I recommend having a pair of boots that they stay on permanently. Anytime it looks a little snowy or icy out there, that’s the pair of boots you use. Here’s a link to a good article on them and some suggestions on buying them.
Keep up that exercise and balancing regime. Falls are usually caused by loss of muscle and/or balance. Neither is necessarily inevitable and older adults can reduce their chances of a fall dramatically, by doing more leg and balance exercises. So, during the winter, if you are stuck in the house, now’s the time to do some exercise and get off that chair!