Fall Prevention

Stay Safe When Walking in Winter Weather

Many older adults fear falling, according to The National Institute on Aging. And with good reason: Falls can lead to broken bones and other serious injuries. But don’t let fear make you a prisoner in your own home.

What are the dangers of falling?
If you have osteoporosis, a fall is more likely to result in a broken bone. But even if your bones are strong, a fall could result in another injury, including a head injury.

Are there conditions that make falling more likely?
There are medical conditions that may increase your risk of falling. If you have any such condition, take extra care and talk to your doctor about what affect your condition could make and what steps you can take to reduce your risks. Some of these conditions include poor eyesight and hearing, poor balance and muscle weakness. Certain medications that make you sleepy or disoriented can increase the risks, as can alcohol.

How can I safely go outside in winter?
Be aware of your limitations and take whatever precautions are reasonable. For some, that is choosing non-slip footwear, while for others, it might mean waiting until a helper is available to accompany you. Brace yourself exiting cars by holding on to the door fully as you step out. Use handrails when available for additional stability.

What precautions can I take?
Assistive devices such as canes or walkers can help. Change your environment if necessary, eliminating items like rugs in your home. Outside, ice and snow add to the danger. Arrange to have your porch and sidewalk areas cleared and salted.

What if I do fall?
It’s a very good idea to consider carrying a phone on your person or wearing an emergency response device on a necklace or bracelet if you’re at risk and live alone. If you fall, assess whether you are able to get back up without assistance or if you need to call for help.