By: Cynthia Moorcroft, MPT
Did you know that falls are a leading cause of traumatic brain injury? Worse yet, Wisconsin is the leader in deaths due to falling in the elderly, double the national rate! For older adults who fall, this risk of fracture or injury is very real, and hip fracture due to falling increases the risk of mortality by 50% in the year following the hip fracture. Winter will be here before we know it, along with the accompanying snow, ice, and slippery conditions. To prevent falling on a slippery surface at any age, follow these top ten tips!
10. Plan ahead. Plan your trips around the weather. If you do not need to go out, don’t. Wait for the weather, roads and sidewalks to clear.
9. Slow down. Allow yourself enough time to get where you are going. Your chances of falling increase when you are running late and feel rushed.
8. Take the path of least resistance. Look for the safest route to your location and the safest route into the building. Choose alternate routes when necessary, that are clear and free of ice.
7. Choose the right shoes. Choose boots or shoes that give you the greatest traction, or better yet, add cleated rubber sleeves over your shoes to run or walk safely on snowy or slippery surfaces.
6. Pay Attention. Be aware of your surroundings, and alert to the possibility of unseen patches of ice. Walk consciously (no texting!).
5. Walk like a penguin. If surfaces are slippery, spread your feet apart, turn them outward and take short, shuffling steps. Slow down and walk as flat footed as possible.
4. Heed parking lots. Be extra careful when getting in out of your car. Look for ice or snow by your door. Place your hands on the door or car for extra support. Watch for other vehicles that may be stopping or sliding in parking lots.
3. Keep your hands free. Wear gloves so you can keep your hands out of your pockets to help improve your balance. Avoid carrying heavy or unwieldly loads that may cause you to become off balance or block the view around your feet.
2. Remove snow immediately. The best way to prevent formation of ice patches on porches, steps, walks and driveways is to frequently apply ice melt granules. Sand, gravel, or kittly litter can also help if ice melt is not available or recommended for your driveway or sidewalk surface. Remove snow that has fallen as soon as possible. Keep de-icer and a shovel or broom within reach of your door, so that it is easily accessible.
1. Ask for help. Your safety is more important than your pride. Ask for help when you know you need it, or even if you are uncertain. People are available and glad to help you with snow removal, navigating an icy path in a parking lot, or a ride somewhere you need to go. Just ask!
If you or your loved one is at risk of falling, please call MotionWorks at 920-215-2050 and schedule your complementary fall screening risk with one of our Doctors of Physical Therapy today!