Winter is a great season for outdoor enthusiasts who love downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. However, it can also be a dangerous time because of the risks of falling. The weather can be harsh and the snow and ice that accumulate on the ground are the main causes of slips and falls.
In fact, during the 2010-2011 winter season, 7,000 Canadians were hospitalized after falling and 70% were aged 50 or older. Because falling can have severe consequences, it’s important to be prepared when going outside, especially if you are part of the age group that is most at risk.
To help you, Clinique GO™’s professionals share their tips for minimizing the risks of winter falls.
What are the risks of falling in the winter?
We are all at risk of falling during the winter, so why can these incidents have severe consequences for people aged 50 and over? As we age, our body loses some of its ability to regenerate. In fact, we lose muscle mass as early as 30 and this pace increases when we reach 50 if we don’t take the right measures to counter this process. Less muscle mass means you won’t be as strong, impacting your ability to get around, and your balance will be affected.
Apart from the obvious risks of physical injuries, falling can also affect an individual’s psychological health. Being scared of falling when going outside may increase the social isolation felt by many senior citizens. Indeed, instead of taking part in social activities, they may decide to stay home to avoid putting themselves at risk. Such social isolation can have severe consequences, both physically and psychologically.
Thankfully, it is possible to minimize the risks of falling in winter so you can go outside and go about your daily business.
How can you protect yourself from the consequences of winter falls?
There are several small gestures you can do to significantly decrease the risks of falling. The right clothes and making sure the area outside your door is clear of snow and ice will drastically decrease these risks.
Here are a few tips that everyone can put into practice:
- Always wear the right shoes, such as anti-slip boots with high traction grip and wide soles.
- You can get removable ice cleats for your boots. They’ll help you avoid slipping when you walk on the ice and you can remove them once back indoors.
- Use abrasives such as sand and de-icing salt on the areas outside your home where ice may form.
- You can also install a safety ramp in slippery or inclined areas. A ramp can be built simply by using wooden posts and a rope, but make sure it’s solid enough to allow you to remain upright if you need to grab on to the rope.
- Make sure the entrance path that leads to your front door is cleared of snow because it can conceal a layer of ice underneath. If you can’t do it, find someone who can for you.
Calling upon Clinique GO™’s professionals to better protect yourself
First, Clinique GO™’s occupational therapists can give you personalized advice tailored to your physical condition and home layout. This will help you minimize any risks. In fact, occupational therapists have the training and skills necessary to help you adapt your home and activities to your condition. Their tips will help you maintain your independence and you’ll be able to pursue your daily activities.
Furthermore, because the risks of falling increase with age due to muscle loss, a kinesiologist can help. A kinesiologist is a professional who specializes in physical activity and they’ll be able to recommend the right exercises to help you improve your muscle tone and balance, two factors that play a large role in keeping you safe when you are walking on ice.
If you have had the misfortune of falling and injuring yourself, a physical therapist can help you get back on your feet as quickly as possible. But let’s hope it doesn’t come to that! If the weather is really bad, sometimes it’s better to stay indoors if you don’t need to go out!
Clinique GO™ offers mobile occupational therapy, kinesiology, and physical therapy services. Our professionals go to your home, or the location that suits you the most, and will be able to assess your situation and provide you with personalized tips.
To decrease the risks of falling on ice and suffering the consequences, call upon our multidisciplinary team!