Resources: Tips for Healthy Aging at Hebrew SeniorLife

How to Avoid Winter Falls

There are a number of risks associated with the harsh, winter weather - not just the frigid temperatures. One of the most threatening winter hazards is the potential for slipping and falling on patches of ice or snow. These falls can lead to a variety of injuries-from cuts and scrapes to broken bones. In fact, fractured ankles (at any age) and broken hips (especially for those over 50) are two of the most frequent, common injuries that can result from falls on snow or ice.

Experts in geriatric care at Hebrew SeniorLife offer the following tips to help you avoid winter falls:

  • While warm coats, mittens and hats can help to keep you warm, appropriate footwear during the winter months is essential. Rubber or neoprene soles, especially those with plenty of tread, provide better traction on snow and ice than either leather or plastic soles. "Comfort" shoes, which are popular with seniors, have smooth soles and should be avoided.
  • Planning ahead is essential. Think about the best route to your destination and add extra time to get there. Avoid rushing or taking shortcuts through the snow or over icy areas.
  • If you have to walk over slippery surfaces, bend your body slightly forward, take shorter strides, or shuffle your feet for better traction and stability.
  • Be careful getting into and out of the car. This is when many falls occurs. Take a quick look around to make sure your footing is clear when you step out of the car.
  • Be aware of "black ice," which is hard to see. Stay on clean, clear pathways or ones that have been treated with sand or salt.
  • If you have to shovel, make sure you clear a level pathway to stand on, so you don't lose your balance.
  • Take advantage of floor mats when you enter buildings. These help remove moisture from your shoes. Once indoors, avoid walking on wet or slippery surfaces.

Following these easy, common-sense tips can help keep you healthy and safe during the winter months.

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