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Winter Fall Prevention Tips for Seniors

Sure, the snow looks pretty, and everybody likes the holidays, but for a lot of senior citizens, winter can be a scary season due to the increased chances of falling on snow or ice. But there are things you can do to help prevent falls, besides moving south. Let’s take a look.

Check the traction on your footwear. Take a look at your shoes and boots. Are they worn smooth? Is it time for a new pair? Shoes with better traction will grip the ground better. Dress shoes are often quite slippery. If you are going somewhere, and you want to wear dress shoes, consider wearing a pair of shoes with good traction to your destination. Then change into your dress shoes once you’re inside.

Check the sidewalk railings. If you have stairs with railings leading up to your door, check to make sure they’re sturdy. Could they catch you if you slipped?

Keep your salt and shovel in the house. The purpose of having salt and a shovel is so you don’t have to walk in the snow or on an icy sidewalk. If you have to walk through the snow to get to your garage where the salt and shovel are, you’ve defeated that purpose.

Carry a cell phone. If you slip and fall, it can be very difficult to get back up, and you might have to call someone for help. A cell phone, even if used rarely, can bring peace of mind when you are going out alone.

Ask for help. If you are walking out of a restaurant and the parking lot has turned in to an ice rink while you were eating, see if you can find a steady arm to guide you. This could be a friend you came with, an employee of the restaurant, or a random passerby.

Have a plan. Think about where you are going and ask yourself, “If I fell here, what would I do?”

Slow down. When you’re late, you end up hurrying and sometimes pushing the limits of what your balance can handle. Allow for extra time so you don’t have to rush.

Strengthen your legs. If you slip, strong leg muscles can help catch you before you hit the ground. If you do fall, they can help you get back up easier. The best thing to do to strengthen your legs is to use them more. Exercise regularly. At home you can walk up and down the stairs or practice getting up out of a chair ten times in a row.

These fall prevention tips, when used together, can greatly reduce your chances of falling, so you can enjoy the winter a little more.

If you want to get serious about leg strengthening, be sure to check out The Five Best Exercises for Stronger Legs chapter in The Balance Manual.  Each exercise is specifically designed to safely increase leg strength in senior citizens.


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