Tips to Help Seniors Brave The Elements of Winter

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posted by Ryan Whittington on December 16, 2010

Ice and snow in many cases add a certain danger to the winter months.  Slips and falls among the elderly greatly increase during the winter months.  Staying inside when conditions are snowy and icy is always the best plan, however sometimes this is not possible.  Whether living in an assisted living facility or at home with private duty home care services, simple tasks such as walking out to get the paper at the curb can result in a slip or fall.

The following suggestions may be helpful to stay safe and prevent falls.

  1. Test the Walk. Before charging out the front door or down the drive, test the walk to see if it is icy.  This can be done from the porch or out the back door.  Whichever method you choose, make sure to take it slow and have someone at your side.
  2. Re-adjust your schedule.  If inclement weather is predicted, do grocery shopping and reschedule appointments so that you can stay inside.  Many grocery stores will now deliver groceries if you are in immediate need.
  3. Snow/Ice Treatment.  Have your driveway and walkways shoveled and salted.  Rather than trying to do this yourself, seriously consider hiring a company who has the appropriate tools.
  4. Lighting.  Ensure adequate lighting on walkways and driveways.  Use a flashlight if needed.  Winter days also bring with them gray days and dark nights.  Make sure that the bulbs in your outdoor lighting are working.
  5. Don't Go Out Alone.  Have someone's "hands on assistance" when venturing outside.  A shoulder or arm to hold onto can make a senior feel much more confident and safe.
  6. Wear Appropriate Clothing.  Make sure that you are adequately dressed for the cold.  Wear rubber soled, non skid shoes or boots.  Layer clothing so that you can add or remove layers easily.  Remember that you do loose heat from your body from not only your head, but also your hands and feet.  Don't forget to wear gloves and warm socks when going out into the cold.
  7. Proper Nutrition.  Winter months also mean lots of cakes, candy and goodies.  Make sure that you are eating regular, nutritious meals.  These meals will give you the strength you need.
  8. Assistive Devices.  When appropriate and needed, use devices such as walkers and canes.  Again, make sure to watch for ice and snow.  In these cases, it is always best to stay inside and re-schedule your plans.
  9. Vision. Have your vision checked regularly.  With glasses that are out of focus, walks and driveways may appear to be wet when in fact they are icy.  A simple eye exam may be just what is needed.

Most importantly, take your time and have a safe winter.

If you have questions or concerns about the items listed above, please feel free to call me in the Seniors Home Care office.  If I am not in, feel free to talk with one of the other three nurses available.


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