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Tips can prevent winter falls

Extremely low temperatures, snow and ice made for one interesting January…and winter isn’t even officially over yet, which means the cold and arctic conditions aren’t completely finished.

Keep in mind that these types of weather conditions could lead to a fall, which for many older adults can be a life-changing event.

Falling is not a normal part of aging, and most falls can be prevented. The STEADY U Ohio initiative offers simple steps that you can take to ensure that wintry conditions don’t send you slipping and tripping:

• Bundle up to stay warm, but make sure you can see in all directions and move easily and freely.

• Wear sturdy shoes or boots with treads, even if you’re just going out to get the newspaper.

• Wear sunglasses to reduce glare from the sun and snow and to help you see where you are walking.

• Do some light stretching before you venture out.

• Have available a bag of salt, sand or kitty litter to sprinkle for traction on icy paths.

• If you must walk on icy surfaces, slow down, shorten your stride, and walk with your feet pointed out slightly and knees gently bent to improve traction and balance.

• Snow can hide curbs and uneven surfaces. If you can’t see where your foot will land, find another way.

• Replace worn rubber tips on canes, walkers and crutches. Ask a mobility equipment dealer about winter canes or cleats that you can add to existing equipment.

• Dry off shoes, canes, crutches and walkers as soon as you are indoors.

• Carry a cleaning cloth and stop to clean your glasses if they fog up.

• If you are going out alone, carry a cell phone. Know who you will call if you fall, and make sure that person knows what to do if you call.

• Stay hydrated. Dehydration can affect your balance as well as how your body responds to medication.

• Ask your doctor or physical therapist about indoor exercises that can help you maintain strength and balance when you can’t venture out.

• Ask your post office, newspaper and garbage collector about service options when conditions are bad.

• When in doubt, don’t risk it. Ask for help if you don’t feel safe doing something.

Visit www.steadyu.ohio.gov and follow “SteadyUOhio” on Facebook and Twitter for more falls prevention tips and resources. The Area Agency on Aging District 7 can also help you connect to services and resources like “A Matter of Balance” falls prevention workshops. Call us at 1-800-582-7277 to learn more.

In addition, regarding safety for seniors, our friends at the American Red Cross have wonderful resources surrounding disaster preparedness and the importance of creating a personal support network for emergencies.

In addition, the American Red Cross has available “Disaster Preparedness for Seniors by Seniors,” a helpful manual that provides good information and preparation tips for disaster situations.

You can find the information and a link to the manual at http://www.redcross.org/prepare/location/home-family/seniors, or to request a hard copy mailed to you, please call our office at 1-800-582-7277 and we can send you one in the mail.

For more information surrounding long-term care services in the home or community, talk with one of our Resource Center Specialists who can provide additional information about resources in your community that can help you age in place.

Call us Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. at 1-800-582-7277.


Pamela K. Matura is the executive director of the Area Agency on Aging District 7.