The inevitable has arrived – winter! And although it’s a beautiful time of year and a holiday season for bringing friends and family together, it does pose a safety threat to older adults. The winter conditions may produce icy sidewalks and driveways and frigid cold temperatures, all which increase the risk of injuries and illness among seniors.
One-fourth of Americans aged 65 and older fall each year. Falls can be especially hazardous to seniors who are typically more prone to injury due to less bone density and muscle mass. Weather conditions increase the risk of slipping and falling, therefore, it pays to think ahead when venturing out of the house this winter. Here are seven tips to help make this winter season injury-free and more fun:
1. Be informed and Plan Ahead.
Watch the daily news to stay up-to-date on what you can expect for weather conditions. This will allow you to plan your grocery visits, pharmacy runs, doctor’s appointments, and social outings on drier, brighter, and warmer days.
2. Bundle Up.
When leaving the house, layer up in warm clothes to combat the cold temperatures and wear properly treaded shoes to improve traction on slippery walkways. Even if you plan to be in the car most of the time, you don’t want to be unexpectedly stuck outside in cold temperatures without proper clothing. This could lead to hypothermia, a dangerous condition from prolonged exposure to cold temperatures leading to a drop in body temperature.
3. Maintain clear sidewalks and driveways.
Shovel or snow blow your walkways and driveways to clear any obstacles. Add an extra bit of security by applying salt and sand. This will help add traction to walking areas. If you are physically unable to use a shovel or run a snow blower, ask a neighbor or your local snow removal company for assistance.
4. Stock up on essential items.
Winter conditions have the potential of keeping us locked up in our homes with a big snow or ice storm. Therefore, having enough essential items like food, water, and prescription medications on hand matter. Depending on your particular situation, seven days’ worth should suffice. Also, don’t forget to stock up on flashlights, batteries, and extra blankets, too. Depending on the severity of a storm, these items may come in handy in case your utilities go out.
If you do find yourself needing to go out unexpectedly in dangerous conditions, consider delivery. Many grocery stores and pharmacies will deliver your food or medications for free or for a very low fee.
5. If you are driving, properly service your car.
Before you need to drive, ensure your heater, defroster, and windshield wipers work, you have an ice scraper, and there’s enough windshield fluid and antifreeze. It is a good idea to ensure your tires have the proper tread and your cell phone is fully charged. Also leave extra blankets in your car in case you need to stay warm after a break down waiting for a tow truck. If at any time, you are concerned about driving, it’s best you ask for a ride or rearrange your schedule and stay in.
6. Stay Connected.
We can’t forget our mental health this time of year since winter months keep us in our homes more, therefore we have less interaction with friends, family, and social gatherings or events we are accustomed to on a weekly basis. As a result we may develop the winter blues. To help combat the winter blues, stay connected by calling, Skyping or (FaceTime) Friends and family members, writing a letter, or by using social media like Facebook or Twitter. Don’t forget, if you take care of your body with proper exercise, healthy eating, and sunlight, you can help your mind stave off the winter blues.
Overall, your health and safety is most important during these winter months. If you are going to venture out, please take these precautions seriously to help avoid any possible injuries so you can enjoy this beautiful time of year!
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