Icy, snowy roads and paths make it easy to slip and fall. Unfortunately, falls are more of a common occurrence during the winter months. A fall can be life-changing for an older person, impacting on their independence and wellbeing, with implications for their family or whānau and significant others.
We all know falls can cause major injuries such as hip and wrist fractures, head trauma and lacerations. This results in an older persons independence being greatly reduced. Even without physical injury, critically, a fall can create a loss of confidence and anxiety in the person and their family/whānau or caregivers. Fear of falling can create a downward spiral in which physical and social activities are restricted unnecessarily, resulting in poor quality of life, depression and social isolation.
While fall are a big concern for many (for good reason), staying indoors all winter is not a good option for anyone, no matter what age.
Here are a few tips to help reduce the risk of falls due to winter conditions:
- Take a couple of minutes a few times each day to stretch your limbs to loosen muscles and increase blood flow.
- Make sure you wear shoes or boots with a non-skid sole
- Have handrails installed on outside walls for frequently used walkways.
- If you use a cane or walking frame, check the rubber tips to make sure they are not worn smooth.
- Take off shoes as soon as you return indoors as snow/ice attached to soles can lead to slippery conditions inside when melted.
What should you do if you do have a fall?
If you have a fall at home:
- Stay calm and decide whether to try to get up.
If you can get up:
- Bend your knees up, roll onto your side, then push up onto all-fours.
- Crawl towards a sturdy chair.
- Use this support to help get yourself seated.
- Rest at any time, if necessary, and then try again.
Medical alarms, keeping the phone near ground level and giving friends a spare key are useful precautions you can make in case one day you cannot get up from a fall.
Take a look at our Equipment and Products section on Eldernet to find a wide range of products to help reduce the risk of falls this winter.