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Winter Slip and Fall Prevention for Older Adults

Braving those cold icy storms is no easy feat for anybody, but hazardous winter outdoor conditions can be particularly dangerous for older adults. In fact, statistics indicate that up to 35% of older adults worldwide suffer a major fall each year, and the risk of suffering a fall is significantly higher for those who deal with cold, icy, and slippery winter climate zones.

Falls can be particularly treacherous for older adults who live alone, because should they suffer an injury, it can be especially difficult to summon help. This is one of the reasons even those older adults who are still able to live comfortably on their own can still benefit in living in a Pillars Senior Living community.

However, regardless of when and where the incident takes place, falls also pose the risk of causing head trauma, fractures, and other serious injuries, and once people are in their golden years, their bodies are not able to heal and bounce back in the same way than they were when they were younger. In addition, as many people age, they become more likely to suffer a fall since common conditions like diabetes, arthritis, and circulation issues can contribute to reduced sensation in the feet, thus making it more difficult to detect any unstable walking conditions underfoot.

Many seniors who are in need of memory care will often suffer from bouts of dizziness, dementia, or vertigo that can make it difficult to stand or walk. Meanwhile, multiple medications can often interact to cause similar side effects. As people age, their muscles tend to lose the strength and elasticity that helps keep their gate stable, and thus it can be difficult to maintain a sense of balance.

Healthy Habits to Practice to Help Older Adults Prevent Falls

There is no easy solution to preventing the risk of falls in the winter, but building year-round healthy lifestyle habits will not only help older adults to feel better on a day-to-day basis but also help to reduce suffering a fall when winter rolls around.

With that in mind, here are some helpful tips if you are worried for an older adult in your life while they are at a Pillars Senior Living community, that can help minimize their slip and fall-related injury this winter.

Get Regular Eye Exams

Many older adults live with continually blurred or out-of-date vision perspectives that make it increasingly difficult to safely navigate outdoor and indoor environments alike.

This is why when the cold weather sets in, it becomes all the more important to ensure that those vision-aid prescriptions are fully up to date by scheduling eye-exams on a regular basis.

Keep in mind that common conditions like glaucoma and cataracts will only get worse if ignored, so anybody who is experiencing vision difficulties is sure to get their eyes checked out right away to make sure that more serious issues don’t develop later down the line.

Carefully Monitor Medication Side Effects

It is important for older adults and their loved ones to stay on top of not only their regular medication schedule but also monitor and record any side effects that they might be experiencing from their medications.

If medications are causing dizzy spells, dementia, drowsiness, vertigo, or any other unusual side effects, be sure to schedule an appointment with a family doctor right away to see what can be done. Also, be aware that drowsiness is a common side-effect of the cold and flu medications that many older adults may need to use to manage a winter bug, so try to avoid any unnecessary movement if taking these types of drugs.

Exercise Regularly

Once the mercury starts dropping, the idea of getting up and moving around on a daily basis might seem increasingly counterintuitive, but a regular daily dose of gentle exercise is actually one of the most powerful steps that older adults can take to keep their muscles and bodies strong, healthy, and flexible, increase their balance, and reduce their risk of suffering a serious fall. As such, older adults should try to schedule at least 20 minutes out of each day to practice a safe and appropriate form of exercise.

Obviously, a walk outside around the block might not be a practical option during a snowstorm, but the good news is all our Pillars Senior Living communities offer plenty of fun activities that older adults can engage in to stay fit. Not to mention they will get a healthy dose of social activity while they are at it. In general, gentle low impact exercises like swimming, walking, or gentle yoga are all great ways for seniors to stay in shape.

Dress Appropriately

Getting dressed up for a social activity can be a lot of fun, but during those cold, slippery winter days, sometimes practicality needs to trump fashion.

 When it comes to navigating slippery surfaces, it is best to avoid heals or hard-soled shoes in favor of rubber-soled flat shoes with good tread that will not only keep those feet warm and protected but also help prevent the risk of slips and skids.

 When it comes to outerwear, make sure to bundle up with a warm hat that fully covers the ears, some form of neck protection, and gloves that allow for plenty of grip to help stop a slip. Wear plenty of layers underneath so that clothing can be peeled off if needed. When it comes to dealing with the cold, it is always better to be overdressed than underdressed.

The Takeaway

The risk of falls can pose a real threat to older adults, and this is especially true during the colder months of winter. As such, in addition to the above tips, it is important to use an extra degree of caution when getting around in the winter, especially when trying to navigate potentially hazardous outdoor environments.

 However, keep in mind that it is likewise important to have an emergency plan in place to ensure that nobody is left stranded alone in the event that they should suffer a fall.

Choosing to reside in a location that offers specialized senior care will significantly reduce this risk as well as provide valuable social outlets and support to make those chilly days all the more enjoyable, so don’t be afraid to reach out to find out more.

Check out an an Ebenezer community near you to learn about the programs, care and lifestyle they offer.