Winter in New Jersey can be a harsh reality. Below average temperatures, snow, sleet and wet or icy roads and walkways can make getting around not only inconvenient, but dangerous as well. According to the Centers for Disease Control, one out of three adults, age 65 and older, falls each year. These falls are the most common cause of nonfatal injuries and hospital admissions for trauma. Bad weather exacerbates this with the addition of hazardous such as snow, ice and the wet surfaces and large puddles that are remnants of spring and summer rain storms.
Health care professionals from Barnabas Health Home Care, understand the challenges and devastating consequences that a serious fall can inflict on an older adult and urge individuals to take precautions to decrease their risk of falling.
- Wear proper footwear. Ensure that shoes and boots have proper traction to help with stability on snowy, wet, bumpy and icy surfaces.
- Keep a shovel, salt and sand accessible. Avoid walking on slippery surfaces near your home by having these items handy.
- Carry a cell phone. Have the extra security of knowing you can call for help if you need it.
- Take it slow. Allow for extra time to get places, especially if it's slippery out or raining or snowing heavily.
- Ask for help. If you have to walk across an icy sidewalk or parking lot, try to find a steady arm to lean on. Most people are eager to help an older person navigate a slippery walkway.
- Better yet, don't take chances. Unless absolutely necessary, don't take chances walking on icy, wet or slippery surfaces.
- Have a plan. Know who to call in case of an emergency.
In addition, some general lifestyle strategies can help to prevent falls:
- Exercise regularly. Perform exercises that maintain or improve balance and strength. Tai Chi and yoga exercises are especially helpful.
- Have medications reviewed. Review both prescription and over-the-counter medications to reduce side effects and drug interactions that could impair balance.
- Have a yearly eye exam. Make sure your vision is as good as it can be to navigate walking and avoid potential falls.
- Take steps to "fall proof" your home. Check for hazards in and out of the home to reduce the likelihood of falling.
For information about how the Barnabas Health Home Care Medication Management or Falls Prevention Programs can help you or a loved one stay safe this winter, please call 973-243-9666 (northern NJ) or 732-818-6800 (Monmouth and Ocean Counties).
About Barnabas Health Home Care Care, support and compassion when you need them most. Barnabas Health Home Care offers patients the ability to recover from a serious illness or manage continued health needs in the place where they are most comfortable – their home. Our professionals work closely with each individual's health care team to ensure recovery and/or wellness goals are being met. Through patient and family education and communication, Home Care staff members become partners in each patient's health care plan to ensure the illness and treatment plan are fully understood and to encourage and coach compliance. Our programs, which serve patients of all ages, focus on assisting the individual in achieving and maintaining the highest level of wellness and independence. For more information, please visit