It is the most wonderful time of the year – the holiday season, chestnuts roasting on an open fire, decking the halls with care – but also this time of year brings snow, ice, and an increased risk for falls. For elderly adults especially, it is essential to take extra care to prevent slips and falls during the winter season. Each year, 2.8 million elderly adults are treated for fall-related injuries and over 800,000 of those falls require hospitalization.
Increased risk factors for falls include:
- Age: Most elderly adults walk with an unsteady gait and can suffer from muscle weakness.
- Previous fall and fear of falling
- Chronic conditions: Those suffering from poor circulation, arthritis, or lingering complications from a stroke may have decreased sensation in their feet.
- Multiple medications: Multiple medications can increase side effects such as dizziness.
- Poor vision
How can you prevent a fall?
While we cannot change the weather, these 7 tips can help prevent serious falls and accidents this winter:
- When winter conditions hit, don’t go outside if you don’t have to!
- If you do have to go out in bad weather, take your time. Rushing will increase your risk of falling.
- Use a slower and wider stride to increase your stability.
- Hold onto doors and handrails when exiting a vehicle or walking down the stairs.
- Wear appropriate shoes with good traction and treads.
- Bring a cell phone when you go outside so you can call for medical help if you do fall.
- Ask your doctor to assess your personal risk of falling and create an action plan.
How can Physical Therapy help?
Our therapists can help identify and treat specific impairments such as mobility problems, weakness and dizziness that cause falls. After completion of a fall risk screening, our therapists can let you know if therapy is indicated and develop a fall prevention program to help reduce your risk of falling.
Contact a clinic today for a FREE fall risk screening!