Winter is on the way and with it comes cold weather and conditions that become snowy or icy. During this time, it’s important to follow some winter precautions for seniors.
Fall Risk + Prevention
Falls are one of the biggest concerns for older adults during the winter months. Staying inside is the safest bet, but when seniors do venture out, we have some winter precautions for seniors to stay safe:
- Make sure steps and walkways are clear before you walk.
- Clear away snow and salt your walkways at your home or hire someone to do it. Organizations in areas that are often impacted by inclement winter weather may offer seniors free or discounted snow-shoveling services.
- Wear supportive footwear, such as boots with good traction that will also keep you warm.
- If you use a cane or walker, replace the rubber tip before it is worn smooth.
- Take wide, short steps and keep hands out of your pockets. Hold on to railing or caregivers if possible.
Snowy Weather Precautions
Snow-related falls can also happen indoors due to melting snow left in entryways. Use indoor and outdoor mats for shaking off snow before entering and remove shoes at the door. Another precaution to take is to make sure space heaters are placed in safe areas. Cords can be tripped over and heaters should be at least 3 feet away from anything that could catch fire if they are knocked over.
Even with the best efforts, falls can sometimes be unavoidable. In this case, learning how to fall properly can prevent major injuries. Keeping your head up, tucking your body in, and refraining from using your hands to break a fall are effective fall-prevention measures.
Lastly, another winter precautions seniors should consider is driving. If possible, find other transportation options for your loved one. If they still drive their own vehicle, make sure to “Winterize” their car or yours, if you are taking them to an appointment or out of the house before bad weather hits. This means having the antifreeze, tires, and windshield wipers checked and changed if needed. Always bring your cell phone and let someone know where you are going and when you should be expected back. Avoid driving on icy roads and be extra careful driving on overpasses or bridges. Also, stock your car with basic emergency supplies such as:
- First aid kit
- Blankets and warm clothes
- Booster cables
- Windshield scraper and a shovel
- Rock salt or a bag of sand or cat litter (in case your wheels get stuck)
- Water and dried food or canned food (with can opener)