Elder-Proofing Outdoors for Winter

As the winter months approach, many seniors who are nervous about slips and falls outside the home can become shut indoors for long periods of time.  But with a bit “elder proofing” of steps and pathways, older adults can safely enjoy the outdoors year-round.

Getting natural sunlight each day not only provides essential Vitamin D(for bone health), it can also help with Seasonal Affective Disorder and regulate natural sleep cycles.  But if weather is hazardous, don’t venture outside.  Consider joining a community center for physical activity and social interaction or join an indoor walking group at your local shopping center.

Winter Outdoor Seniorizing

  • Have gutters cleaned in the fall to prevent overflow that may cause ice to form below
  • During the winter months, make sure sidewalks and driveways are cleared regularly, before snow and ice can build up
  • Keep all walkways and landings well-lit (motion sensor lights are ideal)
  • Store sand, salt or kitty litter at each doorway to use on slippery spots
  • Make sure hand rails are sturdy and placed on each staircase (both sides)
  • Walking sticks or canes can be fitted with an ice pick for outdoor winter use
  • Ice Grippers over sturdy winter boots make for safer walking
  • Dress properly for the weather in layers and limit time outdoor; older adults tend to produce less body heat
  • Enlist the grand kids to get seniors outdoors to build a snowman or take a snowshoe walk

Keeping active and engaged during harsh winter months takes planning, especially for seniors. Contact local senior centers to find out about transportation options and opportunities for physical activity.  A new goal is one way to stay more active throughout the winter and The Senior Games which will take place in Ontario February 21-23, provides older adults with an opportunity to compete in 10 sports including alpine skiing, badminton, curling, hockey, skating, and table tennis. To learn more about the Ontario 55+ Games visit http://www.ontarioseniorgames.ca .