Before winter hits in earnest across the country, with snow and ice starting to build up on our senior loved ones’ sidewalks, paths and driveways, we want to be sure we’ve taken every precaution to prevent them from slipping and falling.
We know that many seniors – far too many – will be laid up for some time or even hospitalized this winter following a slip and fall during or after inclement weather.
Many elders will suffer a bone fracture of one kind or another, especially hips, ankles, shoulders and wrist fractures. For many of our senior loved ones, these fractures can unfortunately be life changing.
Winter Tips to Keep Loved Ones Safe
- Be sure your senior loved one wears the correct footwear, wearing shoes and boots that are not worn out and still provide good traction on the heels and soles and also include special anti-skid materials to prevent slips and falls.
- Keep the sidewalks and driveways clear of ice; have someone (hopefully NOT an at-risk senior) blow or shovel the snow away as needed, apply de-icing material such as salt to reduce the ice buildup on walkways.
- Be sure the steps leading up to the house are in good repair and are not weak or wobbly as they will be even more difficult to navigate safely when there may be snow, water and ice buildup.
- Caution your senior loved one to take his or her time when moving from one location to another and to step carefully when they can’t tell if the path is clear and have your senior walk with someone to help keep him upright.
- Be sure all walkways have a steady handrail that can be used to help your senior keep her balance.
- Remind your loved ones to eat foods or take supplements in adequate amounts that will keep their bones strong to prevent breaks if they do fall. These supplements may include those such as calcium, vitamin D and dairy products — or whatever their doctors recommend.
- Have your senior loved one stay active all year to maintain the muscles that will help move freely and maintain balance on all walking surfaces, especially ice.
- Be sure they know not to be afraid to ask for help if needed.
- Prepare your senior for an emergency if he or she does fall. Who will she call, how will she get to a phone, who will check on him daily to be sure he is safe? Is it time for an alert system that can assist in an emergency? Consider implementing planned check in times when the weather creates extra risks.
Prevention takes a little planning and possibly some acceptance that the risk IS higher. You may not be able to keep your senior loved from falling this winter, but when you follow these tips you may be able to prevent a serious injury from occurring or provide help before a simple fall becomes something more serious in the cold.
Do you have more tips to prevent falls on the ice this winter you can share with us? We would love to hear from you.