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For Our Community

Winter and Older Adults

12-22-2015

Winter is here, so let’s stay safe! At this time of year, we often see accidents due to the icy and cold conditions. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), 1.6 million older adults go to the emergency room each year due to fall injuries. NIH studies show that there is a high correlation between cold weather and falls in older adults. The possibilities for falls in colder climates increase for those older than 65 and are considerably higher in people over 75 years of age.

Older adults can be at higher risk for injuries and exposure if there is a lack of awareness and precautions are not considered. Those with heart conditions or balance problems can be at higher risk for falls. When the temperature falls, our bodies work harder to keep warm. As we get older, our bones can be more fragile and make us more prone to balance problems and bone fractures. Activities such as snow shoveling and walking on snowy or icy sidewalks and parking lots can be hazardous.

Here are some tips to consider that can increase safety:

  • Wearing shoes or boots with skid proof soles can help stability.
  • Avoiding icy ground and choosing walkways that have been cleared or salted can help prevent falls.
  • If assistive devices such as canes or walkers are needed for walking, replacing the rubber tips can ensure accurate traction.
  • Being aware of current weather conditions, dressing appropriately and working slowly can help avoid accidents.
  • The ability to get in touch with family or friends by having a cell phone or personal alert device close by can help avoid long exposure to winter conditions In the event of an accident.

Working as an orthopedic nurse at Bozeman Health, I have seen the complications associated with accidental falls and bone fractures. These types of traumas can result in long recoveries and unforeseen complications, so let’s do our best to help our senior citizens and community stay safe during this winter season.

Categories: Deaconess