As part of our winter fall prevention tips for seniors, let us talk about what to do if you happen to fall on that slippery, icy patch!
Winter’s icy grip can be treacherous, especially for older adults.
A seemingly harmless slip on ice can lead to serious injuries, impacting mobility and independence.
But fear not! By knowing what to do in the event of a fall, you can minimize the risk of harm and ensure a swifter recovery.
Preparing for Winter Walks:
Prevention is always the key to being safe, no matter what the situation.
- Footwear is key: Invest in sturdy boots with good traction, like those with deep treads or ice grips. Avoid smooth-soled shoes and opt for something that won’t slide on slick surfaces.
- Dress in layers: Wear warm, waterproof clothing that allows for easy movement. Layering helps trap heat and makes it easier to adjust to changing temperatures.
- Take your time: Walk slowly and deliberately, avoiding uneven surfaces and areas shaded from the sun where ice may linger. Shorten your stride and shuffle your feet to maintain balance.
- Use assistive devices: Canes, walkers, or even grab bars can provide much-needed stability on icy terrain. Don’t hesitate to use them if they make you feel more secure.
- Always carry a cell phone with you: Keep your phone readily accessible in a pocket or pouch so you can quickly call for help in case of a fall.
If You Take a Tumble:
- Stay calm: Panicking can worsen the situation. Take a few deep breaths and assess your injuries.
- Don’t rush to get up: Lying still for a moment allows you to check for pain or numbness. If you can’t get up on your own, call for help or wait for someone to find you.
- Get to a dry spot: If there is a dry area near you, and you can drag or get yourself to it, then it may be easier to get up but don’t do this if you feel you are injured.
- Protect your head and neck: If possible, cover your head with your arms to avoid further injury.
- Warm up: Hypothermia can set in quickly after a fall, especially in cold weather. Wrap yourself in any available layers or blankets to retain body heat.
- Call an ambulance: If you fell and feel you may be potentially hurt, then call an ambulance. The medical staff can transport your senior to the hospital.
You may always want to learn the steps on how to fall safely (like actors learn to do).
- Seek medical attention: Even if you feel fine initially, it’s crucial to get checked out by a doctor. Broken bones, internal injuries, and sprains can have delayed symptoms.
- Rest and ice: Apply ice packs wrapped in a towel to any swollen areas for 20 minutes at a time, several times a day.
- Elevate the injured area: Keep the affected limb raised above your heart to reduce swelling.
- Follow doctor’s instructions: Take any prescribed medications and adhere to physical therapy recommendations to ensure proper healing.
Tips for Caregivers:
- Stay Calm: Panicking won’t help the situation. Take a deep breath and assess your loved one’s condition.
- Check for Injuries: Look for visible signs of injury like bleeding, bruising, or deformity. Gently ask your loved one if they’re experiencing any pain and where it is located.
- Call for Help: If you suspect a serious injury, like a broken bone or head trauma, call 911 immediately. Otherwise, consider contacting their doctor or a non-emergency medical transport service.
- Keep Warm: Hypothermia can set in quickly after a fall, especially in cold weather. Wrap your loved one in blankets or coats to retain body heat.
- Don’t Move Them: If you suspect a spinal injury, it’s crucial to keep your loved one still to avoid further damage. Wait for medical professionals to arrive and move them.
Remember, preventing falls is always better than dealing with the aftermath.
By taking proactive measures and being prepared, you can navigate the winter months with confidence, keeping yourself and your loved ones safe from the perils of icy stumbles.
By following these tips and promoting awareness, we can all contribute to a safer and more enjoyable winter season for older adults and their families.