Let’s face it – winters can be tough. Months of frigid temperatures and heavy snow fall can make daily life difficult and isolation at home even more common for seniors. You can, however, safely maneuver through winter weather by realizing the high risk for falls during icy and snowy conditions and taking proper precautions.
As a staff geriatrician for Hebrew SeniorLife, I regularly see injuries from falls during winter months and urge patients to be extra vigilant when outdoors during the winter season. Fractured ankles and broken hips (especially for those over 50) are two of the most common injuries and can mean lengthy, frustrating recovery periods for seniors.
Before attempting to shovel snow or rush out for that last errand before a storm, consider these tips for fall prevention.
- Focus on footwear: Rubber or neoprene soles, especially those with plenty of tread, provide better traction on snow and ice than either leather or plastic soles, making them the best choice for fall prevention.
- Careful with cars: Many falls occur when exiting or entering vehicles. Always make sure your footing is clear when you get out of a car.
- Beware of black ice: It’s just as slippery as regular ice, but difficult to see, making it a top winter safety concern. Stay on clear pathways or ones that have been treated with sand or salt.
- Shovel safely: If you have to shovel, clear a level pathway to stand on so you won’t lose your balance.
- Make winter safety a priority: Avoid rushing and allow yourself extra time to reach your destination safely. Avoid short-cuts through snow or over icy areas.
Remember, falls can happen quickly, but lead to long-lasting injuries.