01 Dec Winter Fall Prevention
By: Chris Hoedt, MD
Musculoskeletal injuries from falls, such as broken bones in the hip, wrist, or ankle are common in all season. The winter season poses unique hazards with ice and snow in the colder weather. For older adults, falls can be especially traumatic and life changing. Many elderly patients require nursing home stays and some suffer subsequent health decline. According to the CDC, falls are the leading cause of injury-related death among adults age 65 and older.
Risk factors for falls:
- Previous fall
- Poor vision
- Chronic conditions
- Use of multiple medications
- Fear of falling
- Wear shoes with good traction
- Be cautious and allow for extra time
- Use a slower wide based gait for greater stability while walking
- Dress warm. Cold and tense muscles can make your balance worse
- Be careful getting in and out of your car. Plant both feet firmly on the ground and steady yourself with the door frame
- Clear walkways and driveways. Pay someone if necessary, to help
- Stay in well-lighted areas
- Always have a cellphone or medical alert device
- Ask others for help getting around
- Ask your doctor to assess your risk of falling
- Protect your bone health by taking calcium and vitamin D
If you fall:
- Don’t get up right away. Take your time and assess how you feel or if you have any injuries. Don’t be preoccupied about feeling embarrassed.
- If you are not injured, roll to one side. Bend your knees. Push up with your arms. Then use your legs to stand the rest of the way.
- Use your cellphone, or medical alert device, to call 911 or someone for help if you are injured and need help