Despite the beauty of freshly fallen snow, winter can be difficult especially for older adults. According to the CDC, more than 1 out of 4 older adults fall each year. When surfaces get slippery in the winter, the fall rate is even higher.
Falls can result in lacerations, hip fractures, head trauma and other serious injuries. Let’s take a look at some winter safety risks and review how to avoid them.
Fall Risk And Avoidance
Several factors, such as balance issues, medication, vision problems and muscle weakness, can increase the risk of falling. Uneven flooring, steps or obstacles in the home can also increase the risk of a fall. During winter, icy sidewalks are particularly dangerous.
The next time you see your doctor for a physical, ask him or her to specifically review your fall risk. Also, be sure to inquire about exercise regimens that can help strengthen muscles and improve balance.
When conditions are icy, it is best to be cautious. When in doubt, stay indoors. If you must go out, make sure ice has been removed from the sidewalk or walkway. You might also consider using a four-pronged cane or walker for additional stability on slippery surfaces. Make sure your footwear has a sole that grips well. Finally, when you return indoors, remove your shoes immediately or thoroughly wipe off any moisture. Wet shoes can cause slips and falls indoors too.
Hypothermia (very low body temperature) related deaths are more common in the elderly. That’s why it’s important to make sure heating units function properly at all times. Also, certain types of heating sources can increase carbon monoxide (CO) levels. Check the battery or install a CO monitor to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
If you’re going to head outdoors, be sure to dress warm with a hat, scarf and gloves. Dressing in layers is the best way to retain heat. When you return indoors, you can remove layers of clothing as your body adjusts to the indoor temperature.
Avoid The Winter Blues
Less daylight and more time spent indoors can increase your risk for sadness or depression. Try not to rise early so that you’ll be exposed to as much daylight as possible. Also, maintain frequent social contact with friends and family. Phone calls, and even email or text, can help you stay connected if you’re unable to visit family and friends in person frequently.
Consider Assisted Living
For older adults living alone, the winter presents additional dangers. For example, unexpected power outages can lead to severely low indoor temperatures. Isolation and boredom increases when already-limited opportunities to socialize are impacted by bad weather. Also, if you fall at home and are alone, you may have trouble calling for help.
In an assisted living community, the environment is designed with your safety in mind. With a friendly, professional round-the-clock staff on hand, your needs are satisfied at all times.
In addition to providing a safe environment, assisted living communities offer amenities that have physical and mental health benefits, too. For example, The Maples of Towson provides:
- Nutritious, chef-prepared meals
- A full calendar of community events and celebrations
- Engaging lifelong learning programs
- Specific wellness programs that address common aging issues, like fall risk
- On-site rehabilitation services
- An array of on-site, specialized healthcare providers
If you’re looking for an assisted living community in Maryland, Contact us online or call us at 410-296-8900 to set up a free tour.