Prevent Falls in Bad Weather

Older Adults: Tips to Prevent Outdoor Falls in Bad Weather

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 and Hospice understand the challenges and devastating consequences that a serious fall can inflict on an older adult and urge individuals to take some simple 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.

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