While the grandchildren may be excited about the first snowfall, as we get older, the snow and ice that comes with winter is not as eagerly anticipated. Winter, while beautiful, also can be a season of slips, falls and overexertion for seniors trying to keep their driveways and walks passable. Especially early in the season, freezing rain and quickly changing temperatures can create slippery surfaces that are a hazard for anyone, but especially older adults who may not be as steady or quick to recover their balance.
Canada’s Safety Council has a few practical suggestions for seniors who want to remain active during the winter months while minimizing the risk for falls which can lead to injury and a loss of independence.
- Start from the base and look for winter boots with a low heeled, non-slip tread and good insulation. Look for well-fitted boots that are light-weight and comfortable for walking.
- Use a cane or walking poles for stability. Canes can be easily fitted with picks for icy surfaces; ask at your local pharmacy for more information.
- Seniors who are concerned about falling may want to wear a hip protector while walking or clearing snow in the winter months. Walking with more confidence can reduce the chances of a fall.
- For icy conditions, ice-traction devices can be easily slipped over boots or shoes for greater stability. There are a number of inexpensive models that can help reduce the risk of falls and injury.
- Dress in layers for winter activity to stay warm without becoming overheated.
- Keep walkways clear of ice and snow and use sand or cat litter to provide better traction.
- Shovel frequently to avoid heavy snow to build up. Take breaks often and stay well hydrated, avoiding alcohol, caffeine and smoking.
- If you find yourself faced with crossing an icy surface without assistive devices, try to widen your stance, let your knees bend and take small, slow steps.