Young and old alike slip and fall on the ice. Older adults are not unique in their desire to avoid this treacherous weather; however, falls for seniors tend to be serious. Practicing fall precautions is the best way to assure that you do not end up injured after a winter fall.
Below are some tips for avoiding those nasty falls in the wintertime:
- Be Patient: It’s better to wait until the streets are cleared than risk a fall. Remember-falling and ending up in the hospital takes away your independence. This is not one you want to risk.
- Walk slowly: Be patient. Don’t be in such a hurry (this one bears repeating).
- Wear shoes with good traction. Look for shoes that have grooves that will grip surfaces and don’t assume that athletic shoes will do the trick. Visit your shoe doctor and invest in a good pair of slip-resistant shoes. The price you spend on shoes is an investment in your health and safety.
- Make sure your cane tip is not worn or missing. Your cane can’t do its job if it won’t grip the ground. See about replacing the tip before the weather gets cold and icy.
- Avoid carrying items. Keeping your arms free can help with stabilization. If you must carry something, consider a small backpack.
- Be aware of black ice formation. Practice caution even as snow and ice are melting. You may not always see the most dangerous parts. If you approach and area of the sidewalk that makes you uneasy, step to the grass for a moment until you regain your bearings.
- Be careful from dusk to morning. Night tends to be the coldest time of day when streets freeze over. Your vision is limited in dark and balance can be more difficult.
- Be especially careful stepping up or down: the majority of falls occur when you are changing heights.
- Wear clothing that does not restrict your vision. It sure does get cold during Chicago winters, but restricting your vision can mess with your vestibular system and cause you to lose balance more easily. Try to use a hat or earmuffs that don’t block your gaze.
- Be alert. Don’t text or reach for your phone if you hear it ring. Stay alert and aware of your surroundings so you aren’t startled by a passerby, bike, or approaching car.
- Exercise to improve balance. Strengthening muscles can help stabilize you as you walk. Strength-building exercises will also protect bone, so if you do take a tumble, the consequences will be far fewer than your athletic friendsJ .
- Ask a friend to walk with you. Your friend or in-home caregiver can help carry those packages or brace you if you fall and call for help if needed.
We all want our independence and want to believe we are strong and able enough to withstand difficult conditions. Winter in Chicago is NOT the time for pride. A fall for anyone can be extremely serious and life threatening. Take proper precautions and follow the simple advice above.
Staying in for a cup of hot cocoa and a movie really isn’t so bad! Summer will be right around the corner!