Falls are one of the leading causes of injuries in individuals over the age of 65. Slip and fall accidents are the number one cause of emergency room visits and injury-related deaths in individuals over the age of 65; because of this fall prevention should be of utmost priority when age-proofing the home. As you age, the need to be more cognizant of any potential trip or fall hazards in the home should be looked at with a more critical eye. Fall prevention measures also need to be implemented in areas of the country that are prey to snow and ice which leads to slippery sidewalks and steps.
When winter has settled in, here are some steps you can take to prevent winter-related slips or falls:
- Always be aware of impending weather conditions. If a storm is imminent, stock up on supplies so no one has to go out into hazardous weather conditions.
- If there is an emergency, or if heading out into inclement weather cannot be avoided, make certain you're dressed for the weather and that your vehicle is equipped in the event of an emergency. If you're stranded, it's best to have water and snacks as well as warm clothing, flares or blankets available.
- When going outside it's best to wear shoes and boots with nonslip soles.
- Keeping active is great advice for both young and old. Staying active and healthy will help make certain you're steadier on your feet when the ground conditions are slippery. Daily exercise improves coordination, flexibility and balance and will strengthen your legs and reduce the risk of injury.
- Make certain you have your cell phone charged at all times and within arm's reach or in a pocket. Better yet, have your parents install a medical alert device from LifeFone. These devices can be literal lifesavers in the event of a trip or fall accident and are meant to be worn 24 hours a day. A simple push of the button will summon medical assistance and in the midst of an emergency you may be too disoriented to be able to manage dialing the telephone.
- Hire a neighbor or a service to keep the driveway plowed and the sidewalk and porch steps cleared of snow and salted to prevent ice build-up.
Whether you are a concerned family member or a professional caregiver of the elderly, make certain the seniors in your life are safe and protected when winter takes hold.