Ice, snow, cold weather and weather-induced isolation can make life challenging for anyone — especially older adults. The following winter safety tips from St. Joe’s network partner, Providence Healthcare, can help you stay safe this season.
Slips and Falls
“Consider wearing footwear with good traction and staying inside until the roads are clear, to lower your risk of a fall. Maintaining strength and mobility by having an indoor exercise program are also good for prevention,” says Providence physiotherapist Christian Leyco.
If possible, enlist help for shovelling and salting driveways, sidewalks and entryways. You can also ask family and friends to accompany you on outings as an extra precaution.
Always ensure gait aids (tips of canes, wheels of walkers, etc.) are dry when transitioning from outdoors, because snow and ice will lead to slippery conditions inside. Installing an ice pick on the tip of a cane can be helpful.
Cold temperatures can lead to frostbite and to hypothermia — a condition where the body temperature dips too low.
“Layering with high-quality materials — rather than bulky attire — is best for warmth and balance,” explains Leyco. “Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes against snow glare.
Bad weather makes it more challenging to get around, inducing feelings of loneliness and isolation. Family and friends are encouraged to check in on their loved ones — something as small as a phone call can make a difference.
Community centres and local adult day programs are good resources for social support.
Getting your car serviced early in the season — installing winter tires, topping up fluids such as antifreeze, replacing wipers and testing batteries — can make a difference.
“Using a long-handled snow brush can help you avoid repetitive shoulder injuries,” says Leyco.
In the home, make sure your furnace and/or chimney are in good working condition. Prepare for power outages by keeping a flashlight in every room or even on a key chain, so it is accessible.
In the event of an outage, use blankets to keep warm and a battery-powered radio to stay informed.
If safe to do, “move around to raise your body temperature,” advises Leyco.
Written by Ramon Syyap
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