Stepping carefully in the winter!
Colleen Lindholm | November 24, 2016
As people age, the risk of falling and becoming injured in those falls greatly increases. Falling while outdoors, especially in the winter months, is a serious health and safety concern. Falls can result in injuries that limit your ability to move and to remain active and independent.
It’s important to be aware the ground is going to be more slippery in the winter, and for you to take early precautions to help prevent falling. Wearing the right shoes or boots for the weather is the single most important thing you can do to stay safe when walking outside. Boots with rubber soles and non-slip treads are best. Shoe grippers or traction cleats are another excellent idea.
Falls prevention isn’t just about stopping falls before they happen. It’s about continuing to enjoy life’s simple moments; it’s about playing with your grandchildren and keeping active with friends and family. Most of all, falls prevention is about keeping your independence.
MyHealthAlberta.ca has some great Winter Walking Tips to help reduce your risk of falling this winter;
- Focus on trying to keep your balance.
- Walk flat-footed and point your toes slightly out to make yourself more stable.
- Walk slowly and take small steps or shuffle your feet on icy paths.
- Keep your head up and don’t lean forward.
- Keep your hands out of your pockets to help keep your balance.
- Avoid rushing and doing too many things at once – plan ahead.
- Be careful getting in and out of vehicles – hold onto the door frame for support.
- Assume all wet, dark areas on the pavement are slippery and icy.
- Walk on cleared walkways – avoid short cuts that haven’t been cleared.
- Don’t text and walk at the same time.
- Use handrails on stairs and sloping ground.
- Use sand or an ice-melting product on your front steps.
- Try not to carry things that can make you lose your balance.
The Camrose PCN’s Fall Prevention Program has some additional advice for reducing your risk of falling year round:
- Watch your step! While walking seems like a natural thing to do for many people – it’s important to pay attention to how you walk. Wherever you are keep pathways, halls and stairways well-lit and free of clutter. Ask your healthcare provider about which type of grab bar to use in your bathroom.
- Have your eyes checked every year.
- Wear shoes that support your feet and have a closed heel.
- Speak up about dizziness! Take action tell your doctor if you feel dizzy or lightheaded.
- Keep active in all seasons! Many seniors can become inactive in the winter. Have a winter plan to keep active inside.
- Regular physical activity and exercise can increase muscle strength, improve balance and help prevent you from falling. Ask your doctor or healthcare provider about the best type of exercise program for you.
- Check your medication. Once a year, have your doctor or pharmacist review all medications. As you age, the way some medications affect you can change and increase your risk of falling. Medications include prescriptions, over-the-counter pills, vitamins and herbal supplements. Medications that relax you, help you sleep or improve your mood can increase your risk of falling. Alcohol affects medication so be careful.
The Camrose Primary Care Network’s Fall Prevention Team is there to support you and your family if you have experienced falling. For information, please contact either the Camrose PCN at 780-608-4927 and ask about the Fall Prevention Program. You can also visit www.camrosepcn.com/STOPfalls to learn more.