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Winter safety tips for the elderly

Denver received it’s first icy blast recently, highlighting the importance of a few safety tips to avoid falls and while outdoors. Here are some general tips to decrease your risk of falling, and increase your safety while navigating in the home and community.

Wear non-skid shoes while ambulating outdoors. Many orthopedic shoes have decreased tread on the soles, which are great reducing your trip hazard in the home, but greatly increase your risk of slipping on the ice. Shoes with a rubber sole offer more tread/traction when outdoors. Many of the newer winter boots are not only easy to get on and off, but are also lightweight.

Check out the rubber tips of your cane or walker. We take great care to winterize our cars, but often neglect the tips of our walking devices. When the rubber tips wear out, you have less tread or control.  Rubber tips for canes and walkers are sold with most medical supplies, are inexpensive, and are fairly easy to replace.

Keep your sidewalks and driveways clear from snow and ice. If you are unable to shovel your driveway and sidewalks, recruit a helpful family member or neighbor to do so.

Using sand or salt on your driveway after shoveling can greatly reduce your fall risk. Salt actually helps melt the ice, but can leave a residue and possibly create damage to concrete. Sand does not help melt ice, but can create traction.

Choose a flat area to get into/out of the car instead of performing the task on a slope.

If you absolutely need to walk on a slippery surface, increase your base of support by widening your stance, increasing how much of your foot comes in contact with the ground (flat feet = more friction = decreased risk of slipping).

Exercise caution when shoveling. Shoveling heavy snow can burn as many calories per hour as cross country skiing. Also, shoveling engages many muscle of the upper and lower back and can lead to injury if not performed correctly. Many ergonomic shovels are now available, making shoveling easier and safer.

Bundle up! Wearing appropriate layers can not only increase your comfort, but decrease the risk of frost bite.

Take advantage of floor mats and rugs when coming indoors.Wipe your feet thoroughly when coming in. Snow remaining in the tread of your boots can also melt once you are indoors, creating a slip hazard.

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01 Dec, 2014

Physical Therapy

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