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Preventing Slips and Falls during Icy Conditions

Jan 13, 2015 8:14:00 AM

The winter weather can make for some treacherous terrain in the Burlington and Cherry Hills areas. For seniors, slips and falls can have devastating consequences. Broken hips and limbs can make self-care very difficult and severe injuries can even have life-threatening consequences. Caregivers and family members can help to prevent elders from slipping and falling during icy conditions by taking a proactive approach.

preventing-slips-falls-winter

Footwear Makes a Difference

Proper footwear will help to decrease the risk of slips and falls. Family members can help by making sure that seniors have a pair of sturdy boots with rubber or neoprene soles and plenty of tread. These materials are much more resistant to slippage than plastic or leather soles. Senior’s walking aids should also be taken into consideration. Canes and walkers can be made safer by placing cleats or slip resistant materials on the bottom of the legs.

Avoid Black Ice

Black ice can be even slipperier than ice that is clearly visible, but is more difficult to see. To help seniors avoid black ice, caregivers should avoid taking elders over areas that have not been obviously salted or sanded. It may be helpful to keep a small bag of sand or salt on hand when helping seniors with errands and activities outside of the home. Caregivers may also help seniors to avoid slipping on black ice by running small errands so that elders do not have to leave the home when conditions are poor.

Slow Down

Taking time to perform activities can help seniors to avoid slips and falls at any time of year, but it is especially important during the winter. Caregivers should encourage seniors to take it slow when getting out of the car, travelling from one place to another, and leaving buildings. Standing or moving too quickly can cause dizziness and disorientation that can exacerbate the dangers of slippery pathways. Caregivers can provide additional support by lending a hand, exuding patience, and discouraging seniors from taking shortcuts over uncleared areas.

Regular Evaluations

Physicians can help seniors to prevent slips and falls during the winter by performing physical evaluations and alerting seniors to factors that may increase the individual fall risks. Poor vision and impediments to balance such as conditions or medications may increase fall risks. Physicians can give seniors advice about how to mitigate risk, such as wearing glasses when going out and traveling with assistance.

Prepare for Slips and Falls

While action can be taken to prevent slips and falls, seniors should have a plan in place should a fall occur to minimize the degree of injury. Carrying a cell phone or emergency alert device when traveling can help seniors to receive help more quickly. Seniors should also be prepared to break a fall when sliding, as an injury to a hand or elbow will affect daily life less than a hip, leg, or head injury. Exercising regularly can help improve seniors’ reflexes, strength, and flexibility so that falls are less likely and less detrimental.

Topics: Fall Prevention, Healthy Living

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