2016 News

Winter Safety Tips for Seniors

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By VHA
Snow covering handicap parking spot

In a country with such harsh winters, the ice and snow doesn’t just mean tough driving conditions, it’s also a hazard for slipping and falling. This is especially a worry for seniors as falling is one of the biggest health hazards seniors face and this risk greatly increases during the winter months. A bad fall can cause serious and long-lasting damage, especially for an elderly person. Fortunately, a few small adjustments can greatly reduce the chance of falling.

Tips to Help Prevent Slips and Falls in the Winter:

  • Regularly remove snow from the driveway and walkways and spread salt, sand or non-clumping kitty litter to get rid of ice. People over 65, particularly those with a history of high blood pressure or heart problems, should avoid snow shovelling. Community services and other support agencies often provide snow removal services.
  • Make sure the sidewalk, driveway and steps are all well lit, sensor lights are a great option.
  • Install support railings that lead to the front door. If railings are already there, make sure they’re sturdy and secure.
  • Ensure that you own a good pair of boots with thick, non-slip rubber soles and that you have warm winter clothing. Being cold can make you hurry or tense up which can cause you to lose your balance.
  • Use a walking aid such as a cane or walker if needed. Make sure it’s the right height and that the rubber grips are in good shape. Ice picks, sold at most drug stores, can also be installed at the end of a cane to offer further stability.
  • Provide extra treading on ice and snowy surfaces by investing in ice-grippers or metal tracks to attach to the bottom of shoes. Make sure you can put them on and off by yourself and that you remove them when walking on smooth surfaces like tile or ceramic.
  • Place a winter mat at the front door so wet boots can be taken off right away. This will prevent puddles that can cause indoor slips.
  • Carry safety items including a cell phone, whistle and personal identification if going for a walk. It’s also a good idea to bring a small bag of salt or sand to spread on ice along the way.

By making simple changes around the home and promoting safe winter practices, you can enjoy a slip and fall-free winter season.