Did you know that one in four Americans over the age of 65 falls each year? The older we get, the more difficult it is for us to recover from even minor falls. Especially during the winter season, seniors have a greater risk of experiencing a slip or fall in the ice and snow. Luckily, there are practical ways for older adults to stay safe during the winter weather and avoid dangerous falls.
Wear appropriate footwear
The rapid melting and refreezing of snow and ice can make outdoor walking surfaces hazardous for anyone. If you must go outside, be sure you’re wearing nonskid footwear such as rubber-soled shoes or boots to avoid falling in the ice or snow. After you return indoors, remove wet shoes to avoid leaving slippery water spots around the house. To maintain better stability indoors, opt for a pair of shoes that fit snugly instead of floppy slippers.
Cold weather temperatures cause our joints and muscles to stiffen, which can restrict movement and make walking difficult. Stay warm outdoors by dressing in layers and wearing a hat, scarf, and gloves. Remember, your extremities get colder faster than the rest of your body, so be certain you’re always well protected from the cold.
Practice stability exercises
A great way to prevent falls all year round is by practicing strength and stability exercises. Simple exercises like marching in place or practicing sitting and standing from a chair can help older adults improve their strength, balance, and flexibility. Many retirement communities offer physical therapy and fitness classes to help seniors maintain their stability and prevent falls well into their retirement years.
Watch for hidden hazards
It’s important to be aware of potential fall hazards that might be hidden by winter conditions. For example, snow piles may obscure uneven walking paths or curbs, and icy patches aren’t always detectable. Take your time when walking outdoors and beware of icy parking lots, sidewalks, and driveways. In retirement communities, winter safety is a priority. Most communities have a dedicated maintenance staff to clear walkways of hazardous snow and ice and keep residents safe.