Fall prevention in winter months

The holidays should be a time of cheer and celebration. Unfortunately, the winter months have proven themselves to be dangerous for Canadian seniors. Older adults are nine times more likely to be hurt in a fall leading to hospitalization over others, chances increasing even more so in colder weather. Slick ice, blustering snow, and below-freezing temperatures can create hazardous conditions for people needing to venture outdoors. Everyone should be aware of the increased risk of falls.

Here are some tips for fall prevention during the winter, in recognition of Fall Prevention Month this November:

  1. Check the weather and plan ahead. With long-term forecasts at the touch of a button, make sure to plan your travel around the weather. Check the weather ahead of time for the week. If you see a storm coming, plan travel beforehand or in the days following, once snow or ice has had a chance to be cleared.
  2. Bundle up. As for any kind of extreme weather conditions, it’s important to dress suitably. In colder months, dress warmly. Layers can keep your muscles warm, relaxed and more flexible than they would be tensed from the cold. Shoes with good traction or shoe chains could help with additional traction.
  3. Give yourself time. Be patient with yourself and allow for extra time when getting places. Factor in some added time when traveling if you have multiple things to do on the same day. The chances of falling increase when rushing and exercising less caution.
  4. Skip shortcuts. Even though a path may look shorter, don’t veer off the beaten track. Stick to cleared pathways, sidewalks and roads as these surfaces, hopefully, will have been cleared, salted and prepared for pedestrian use. Taking smaller steps, with toes pointed slightly outward can help you maintain better support.
  5. Watch for hidden hazards. Never assume a surface is safe by the first glance. Black ice or other hazards can be hiding in plain sight. When walking in low-lit or shadowy areas, stay alert with every step. Look down and around with your head only, if possible, to avoid larger movements that may cause a loss of balance.

In the winter, it’s important to keep your driveway and walkways cleared. If you are unable to do so yourself, consider hiring a professional for the season. Getting in and out of your car can be one of the biggest challenges during the winter months; a clear parking space will avoid any additional concern, allowing you to plant your feet firmly and have space to brace yourself on the door frame of the vehicle before moving inside.

At Seasons, property maintenance regarding the safety and wellbeing of our residents is of utmost concern. Retirement living residences offer peace of mind in knowing someone is always there when you need them; whether it be assisting with fall prevention by inspecting the building and outdoor areas, maintaining the home’s property, or lending a steady hand. If you are seeking out arrangements after a fall, we can arrange for a walker, escort and encourage a resident’s recovery until physically able to manage on their own again.

Seasons also offers many activities and programs that involve building and increasing our residents’ physical activity. Exercise at this age is key in maintaining balance, strength, endurance, and other physical characteristics that can help in fall prevention. For additional resources on fall prevention for older adults and how to take action, Fall Prevention Month, funded by the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation, has many free resources online for ensuring fall prevention year-long.

Book a personal visit to best determine if Seasons is the right fit for you or your loved one. Please consult your doctor for personalized medical advice.

Sources: FallPreventionMonth.caSenior Directory & American Bone Health.