How to stay safe and avoid falls this winter

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Winter’s snow and ice makes it an especially dangerous time for seniors due to the increased risk of falling. Snow and ice on untreated walkways, parking lots and stairs result in uneven and slippery walking surfaces. This significantly increases the risk of falling – especially for seniors.

Here are four safety tips for seniors to keep in mind to help prevent falls this winter: 

Tip 1: If possible, avoid going out alone

When errands or travel are required, try to go with a family member or friend if possible.

“I would always caution seniors not to go places alone,” said Elderwood Wellness Manager Steven Johnson, “going out alone can have risks in the event a senior does fall, there’s a chance there may not be people around to help.”

Ideally, a caregiver can accompany their loved one, and help them get around providing additional physical support to walk in snowy or icy conditions if needed. If a senior does fall having someone present can help assess whether they have broken a bone or suffered a concussion. If there is a serious injury, having someone handy can help get emergency assistance quickly.

Tip 2: Use caution when getting up after a fall

If you do suffer a fall in the snow or ice, especially if you’re alone, try and assess how you’re feeling. Move your body gently to see if there is any pain. If you feel like you haven’t broken anything and can move around without pain, then go ahead and use caution when getting up.

“Try to find something sturdy to grab onto, like a railing or light post to try and pull yourself up. That would be better than trying to push yourself up on a cane or walker, which can be unsteady,” said Johnson.”

Tip 3: Keep sidewalks and steps clear

It’s important for seniors to make sure their sidewalks and steps are clear from snow and ice to help prevent a fall. Also make sure you have something nearby to offer support in slippery conditions.

“Make sure you have a railing. Two railings work best going up and down the stairs,” said Johnson.

Tip 4: Use salt before and during a storm

If you know there is going to be a storm, use salt or other ice melt products to help prevent ice buildup and snow accumulation on sidewalks or driveways. Using melting products during a storm can also help prevent ice buildup and accumulating snow.

While we can’t control the wintry weather, following these safety tips can help to prevent serious injuries from falling, and help keep seniors healthy until spring.