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.