Six tips to prevent seniors from falling this winter
It is impossible to completely prevent a fall. But if you follow these tips, the chances can be reduced. Prevention takes a little planning and possibly some acceptance that the risk is higher for seniors in winter.
- The correct footwear is very important! Make sure your loved one is not wearing worn-out shoes or boots. Ensure the size is correct, not too big or too small. Ensure that the footwear has adequate traction on the soles. Consider adding anti-skid materials to the bottom.
- Ensure the steps going up to the house are strong and in good repair. Weak or wobbly steps can cause your loved one to become off balance and increases the risk of a fall. Ensure that snow, ice and water buildup are properly maintained at all times.
- Set up a snow removal service or a neighborhood teenager to regularly keep the sidewalks and driveways clear of ice and snow. Always have salt available for melting ice and snow.
- It is important to remind and caution your loved one to always be careful and take extra take time when moving from one location to another. It is important to step carefully when they can’t tell if the path is clear. It is advised to have your loved one walk with someone to help keep him upright.
- Ensure that all walkways and stairways have a steady handrail that can be used to help your loved one keep his/her balance.
- Always prepare your loved one for an emergency if he or she does fall. Consider a life alert system. Otherwise who will he/she call and how will he/she get to a phone? It’s also a good idea to consider implementing planned check-in times when the weather creates extra risks. Westlake and Bay Village offer free daily reassurance calls to older adults. If the resident doesn't pick up the phone, the police will be notified. In Westlake, the police will then go check on the home; in Bay Village, the person's emergency contact will be contacted first. For more information or to participate in Westlake's "Are You Okay?" program, call the community services department at 440-899-3544. For Bay's Community Care Monitor program, call community services at 440-899-3442.
Kristi Vaughn, LSW
I am a Licensed Social Worker and owner of Adult Comfort Care: A Person Centered in-home assisted living resource for seniors and their families.