Winter time brings with it a multitude of hazards – slippery, wet surfaces, cold weather which tends to worsen frigid bones and muscles and increased periods of darkness.
Falls are among the most common accidents in seniors. One fall can truly threaten the lifestyle and independence of the elderly. Additionally, an unexpected fall may be a warning sign pointing to an underlying illness.
Ironically, most falls tend to happen in the most familiar of places and at the most unexpected times. Learn more about the most common types of falls and how to avoid them this winter…
Common types of falls
Falls in seniors have a tendency to occur in familiar environments, such as around the house, particularly while carrying out everyday tasks. Certain hazards such as dark passageways, stairwells, loose rugs and mats and loose cords pose a serious trip and fall hazard around the home. These common falls can lead to a broken hip (most commonly), spine, arm, leg and ankle, and pelvis.
Additionally, the older a senior, the more likely they will not return home after a fall, but have to be admitted to a senior care facility.
Elderly women are twice as likely to experience broken bones when falling then their male counterparts. This is due to reduced bone density and strength. However, not all falls result in broken bones, some merely result in a few bruises.
Why are falls so common in the elderly?
Falls are increasingly common in seniors due to a loss of weight and muscle tone, resulting in weakness and imbalances. Vision impairment in the elderly is also highly common, which contributes to not being able to clearly see or recognise potential obstacles.
Some seniors may also have neurodegenerative diseases or other chronic health problems such as diabetes or even low blood pressure. These health problems can cause seniors to become unsteady or impair their ability to walk or stand.
Prevent a risk of falls this winter
- Seniors should avoid walking outdoors if it has recently been snowing or raining. Wet and icy walkways and pavements become major slip hazards.
- Ensure pathways are always cleared and well salted during the winter, and wet boots and umbrellas must be properly stored away. Clean up outdoor mess as soon as you can once entering the home to prevent slips.
- Remove any potential obstacles altogether – this includes loose rugs and cables. Tack down mats and carpets and remove large items of furniture which could be a hindrance in darker, gloomy lighting.
- Ensure there is always a lamp or light on in hallways and bathrooms, most especially in the afternoon as winter time brings with it increased hours of darkness.
- Look out for alcohol intake! Yes, it’s a festive time of the New Year and a tipple or two may be in order, but look out for the amount of alcohol seniors are indulging in. Over appreciation of their favourite tipple can result in increased imbalances, unsteadiness and contradictions with medication they are taking.
Make the most of out of the New Year by avoiding unnecessary accidents and falls with these top tips!