How to Decrease Senior Falling Risks During Autumn & Winter
Safety

How to Decrease Senior Falling Risks During Autumn & Winter

by Martha Scully

Senior falls are increasingly common. With 20%-30% of seniors experiencing a fall each year, they are a leading cause of injury-related hospital visits among seniors. With autumn here and with winter in the not too distant future, the change of season increases the risk for seniors. While many assume that falls happen due to unfamiliarity with surroundings, the truth is that most falls during autumn and winter occur at home.

“Although falls can happen anywhere, well over half of all falls happen at home. Falls at home often happen while a person is doing normal daily activities. Some of these falls are caused by factors in the person’s living environment. For instance, a slick floor or a poorly lit stairway may lead to a fall,” says NIHSeniorHealth.gov.

Weather Conditions Increase the Risk of Falls

Naturally, weather conditions increase the risk of falls for seniors. Considering the unpredictable nature of weather in North America, it is very important for seniors living at home to ensure they are prepared for anything and everything, such as:

  • Sudden dips in temperature
  • Large amounts of precipitation
  • Wet or icy surfaces
  • Large snow falls

All of these situations increase your risk of slipping indoors and outdoors. While many focus on outdoor conditions, indoor conditions such as wet floors and slippery surfaces are also a big threat. Therefore, it’s important to ensure you have proper footwear and take preventative measures inside and outside to reduce your risk of falling. This is something that your family or a senior care worker can help you with.

The Public Health Agency of Canada discusses why you need to pay extra attention indoors when the weather changes:

“Winter weather conditions are also problematic on entry into buildings, as wet footwear can lead to slips on smooth indoor flooring. Such conditions can also prevent effective use of assistive devices, as gait stabilizers such as canes and walkers are more likely to slip, and tires on wheelchairs and scooters can lose traction or become obstructed.”

Fall and Winter Tripping Hazards

While there are countless potential tripping hazards this time of year, there are some common threats that are easy to overlook:

  • Halloween and Christmas decorations
  • Boots and shoes left at the door
  • Slippery floors and stairs
  • Entrance mats, carpets, and rugs
  • Black ice and snow

The key is to be proactive and take steps to reduce the odds of these things becoming an issue for you or a family member. Doing things like having a senior care worker come to your home and help you with your chores to reduce clutter, removing shoes from the doorway, and hiring a company to shovel snow and salt your stairs and walkways will help you stay safe.

Tips for Preventing Falls During Autumn and Winter

Keep active during the cold season

As they say, if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it. Just because it’s getting cold outside doesn’t mean that you need to put your exercise routine on hiatus. Keeping active will help you remain more active and agile. Even if you can’t make it to a gym, there are lots of exercises you can do at home with the help of your care giver.

Check out the exercise ideas in these articles:

Dress for the weather

While dressing for the weather is important all year, it’s even more important when it’s wet and slick outside. Make sure you wear footwear with proper traction for the conditions. Also make sure you wear clothing that doesn’t restrict your mobility.

Listen to your body

If you listen, your body will tell you when it’s time to scale back and take a day off. Trying to do too much, especially when it’s cold and wet outside, could be a recipe for disaster. Don’t unnecessarily push yourself.

Stay indoors

If the weather is really poor, then just stay indoors and eliminate the risk of having a fall altogether.

Don’t assume

Always be cautions when walking on new surfaces. While blacktop may just look wet, it could have a thin layer of ice on it, making it important to always wear proper footwear, even if you are just running to the car to get something or making a quick trip to the store.

Take extra steps to prevent falls

Taking extra steps to prevent falls is always a good idea. Using a cane, walker or running your errands with the help of a caregiver reduces the risk of having a fall.

Always have access to help

Whether you are staying in, rooting around in the garage or backyard, or just walking down the street, always have access to a cell phone or emergency alarm device. You never know when a fall could happen. Being prepared is key.

Ask for help

Pride is a commonly overlooked factor that can lead to falls, especially when the conditions worsen outside. There is always a time and place to ask for help, and letting your pride get in the way is not worth risking having a fall.

Conclusion

Follow these tips to help preventi falls during the change of seasons. Additionally, you ca minimize your risk of having a fall by getting some help this autumn. Whether you need some help around the house or simply want some company, Eldercare.com can help you find the perfect elder care provider for your situation – we can connect you directly to a caregiver in your area.



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About the Author
Martha Scully
Martha is the founder of CanadianNanny.ca. Martha has been featured as a Child Care Expert in hundreds of publications across Canada including The Globe and Mail, CBC, Today's Parent and The National Post, She lives in British Columbia with her husband and two daughters.