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Tips to minimise the risk of falls this winter

Health and Mental Health

Tips to minimise the risk of falls this winter

As winter’s chill sets in, the risk of accidental falls, especially among the elderly, spikes dramatically…

Recent statistics have highlighted a troubling trend: one in eight preventable deaths reported in England and Wales involved a fall. With icy pavements becoming increasingly common in December, awareness and preventative measures are more crucial than ever.

Underscoring the need for immediate action. Ski Vertigo have developed a comprehensive 10-point guide to minimise the risk of falls this winter.

A spokesperson from Ski Vertigo:

“Winter brings with it a hidden danger for our elderly population. It’s imperative that we take proactive steps to ensure their safety. Simple measures like choosing the right footwear and making minor adjustments at home can significantly reduce the risk of falls.”

Top Ten Tips

1. Choose Footwear Wisely: Selecting the right footwear is crucial for preventing falls. Shoes with non-slip soles and a good grip are essential. Avoid shoes with smooth soles and consider using ice grips or crampons that can be attached to shoes for additional traction. High-traction footwear such as boots designed for snow and ice can provide better stability.

2. Prioritise Rough Surfaces for Walking: When outdoors, opt for paths that offer more traction. Walking on rough surfaces like dirt paths or gravel can provide a better grip than walking on smooth surfaces such as tiles or polished concrete. If possible, avoid walking on icy patches, and use salt or sand on icy areas near your home.

3. Home Adjustments for Safety: Making small adjustments at home can significantly reduce the risk of falls. Install grip-enhancing tape or mats on outdoor tiles, especially near entrances. Ensure that outdoor areas are well-lit to improve visibility. Inside the house, remove tripping hazards such as loose rugs, and keep paths clear of clutter.

4. Indoor Exercises to Maintain Balance: Regular indoor exercises can help in maintaining balance, muscle strength, and coordination, which are vital for preventing falls. Simple activities like standing on one foot, walking heel to toe, or light stretching can be beneficial. Consider balance-specific exercises like Tai Chi or yoga.

5. Community Vigilance and Support: Building a community support system is vital. Keep an eye out for icy patches in common areas and report them for prompt action. Neighbors and community members can assist in clearing snow and ice from walkways. Check in on elderly neighbors regularly, especially during extreme weather conditions.

6. Use of Walking Aids: If needed, don’t hesitate to use walking aids like a cane or walker. These can provide extra stability on slippery surfaces. Make sure they are well-maintained and equipped with appropriate winter tips.

7. Plan Your Route: Plan your walking route ahead of time, choosing the safest path and avoiding areas known to be particularly slippery or poorly lit.

8. Stay Informed About Weather Conditions: Keep updated on weather forecasts and plan outings accordingly. Avoid going out during or immediately after snowstorms when paths are likely to be most slippery.

9. Emergency Contact Plan: Have a plan in case of a fall. Carry a mobile phone or emergency alert device, especially when going out alone. Make sure family or friends are aware of your plans and expected return time.

10. Regular Health Check-Ups: Regular check-ups with a healthcare provider can help manage health conditions that might increase the risk of falls, such as vision impairments or medication side effects.

A spokesperson from Ski Vertigo:

“By implementing these measures, the risk of falls can be significantly reduced, ensuring a safer winter for the elderly. While it’s crucial to involve the community in supporting our elders, it’s equally important to acknowledge the autonomy and ability of many elderly individuals to implement these steps themselves. Empowering them with the knowledge and tools they need to stay safe allows them to maintain their independence and confidence during the winter months.

“By working together, we can create a safer environment for our elderly during these cold months. It’s about providing support where needed while respecting their capability and independence.”

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