By: Pam Gennings, Executive Director Special Projects
There is snow and ice on the ground and the groundhog saw his shadow. So although we may be dreaming of spring, winter weather is here for now.
Slick streets and sidewalks are reminders to be careful—not just in the winter but at all times—of falling.
Anyone can slip and fall, but those 65 and older are at the greatest risk of moderate to severe injuries from falls.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports:
- Falls cause over 95% of hip fractures
- People 75 and older who fall are four to five times more likely to be admitted to a long-term care facility for a year or longer compared to those ages 65-74
Protect yourself, or someone you love, with simple steps:
- Spread salt or sand on icy surfaces—ask for help
- Stay inside during icy, snowy weather unless absolutely necessary
- Wear snow boots or shoes with good traction
- Always have someone with you
- Clear off porch, steps and driveway—ask a friend or neighbor to help
- Install outdoor lighting
- Use nightlights in hallways and bathrooms
- Keep a flashlight by your bed
- Watch out for clutter, small pieces of furniture, throw rugs, electrical cords, etc.—remove or rearrange items that can cause you to trip
- Watch out for pets—they are wonderful companions, but also get under foot
- Arrange furniture with plenty of space to walk around
- Install handrails on both sides of stairways
- Put items frequently used within reach
- Try not to use a step stool—ask for help or use a stool with a handle bar
- Be cautious of wet floors—especially when friends and family come visit and bring the wintery mix indoors
- Install grab bars in your bathroom and rubber bath mat in shower or tub
Fear of falling is also dangerous. Unfortunately, many older adults do not report a fall to a family member or doctor if no injury occurred. This often turns into a fear of falling which leads to limited activity. Reducing mobility and loss of physical strength and fitness only increases the risk of falling.
If you are at risk of falling, or concerned about a loved one’s safety, Oxford HealthCare can help. Oxford’s Lifeline Personal Emergency Response System detects a fall and calls for help.