Home Care Blog | November 18, 2021
Cold weather falls are avoidable for seniors: Each year, one in every three adults age 65 and older falls. A variety of studies have shown a high correlation between cold weather and an increase in falls among older adults, too. The chances for falls in colder weather increases significantly after age 65, and dramatically for seniors 75 years and older.
Unfortunately, other statistics about seniors and fall-related injuries are alarming as well;
- Falls are the leading cause of injury at home among Canadian 65 years and older.
- Falls accounted for 59% of all emergency visits and 79% of hospitalizations due to injury.
- Older Canadians are nine times more likely to suffer an injury from a fall leading to hospitalization and even death.
- Falls are the leading cause of injury-related death among those age 75 and older.
Once cold weather comes, seniors should be aware of their increased risk for falls. Snow and ice is a danger for anyone who ventures outdoors in winter, but it is especially unsafe for older adults for a variety of reasons:
- As seniors age, sensation in their feet may decline, especially if they have arthritis, diabetes, poor circulation, or complications from a stroke. A decrease in sensation can affect proper balance. For this reason, venturing outdoors in cold weather can cause an added risk for them.
- Seniors are more likely to be on multiple medications, which can sometimes cause side affects that make falling easier such as mild dementia or dizziness.
- Many seniors walk with an unsteady gait compared to when they were younger. Also, if seniors don’t practice good exercise habits, muscles can lose strength and elasticity, thereby leaving older adults more susceptible to falls.
Those seniors who work hard to maintain and even increase their flexibility, strength, balance and endurance are less likely to fall. Occupational therapists recommend routine exercise year round so senior adults stay healthy. Even something as simple as a healthy diet can reduce your chance of falling year round—and especially—in wintertime.
Another important healthy habit that can help prevent falls is getting routine eye exams. If you are wearing the wrong prescription eyewear, your chance of falling is much greater. Taking care of your eyes as you get older can help catch problems early such as glaucoma or cataracts. Since these and similar conditions get gradually worse, it’s easy to miss how serious they have become over time.
Finally, maintaining good relationships with your physician and pharmacist are important for year round health so side affects from medication that could lead to falls are monitored and prevented. Keep in mind that cold and flu remedies often contain ingredients that make some people drowsy.
Perhaps the adage, ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’ is so popular because it’s true. The best time to get prepared for winter is long before it arrives.
Unfortunately some studies indicate that falls among seniors are on the rise. Keeping all these tips and information in mind can help prevent you from being among those senior adults who sustain an injury by falling in winter.
Maintaining senior health and wellbeing is a priority for the team at Comfort Keepers®. Our caregivers can assist in providing seniors with transportation to and from the doctor’s office or clinics to receive their vaccinations. In addition, caregivers can also work to promote a healthy lifestyle by supporting physician-recommended diet and exercise plans, as well as medication reminders. Contact your the Comfort Keepers Calgary office today to learn more.
Bonus Article: The Comfort Keepers Difference
“Cold Weather Tips for Seniors,” by Chase Patton, an Appalachian Agency for Senior Citizens news article, www.aasc.org.
“Monday Top Tips: Stay Safe this Holiday Season; Tips to Prevent Falls in Winter Weather, by Rupali Joshi for Hospital for Special Surgery, www.hss.edu.
“Falls Prevention: A practical guide for preventing falls,” by the editors of the Cornwall Council, www.cornwall.gov.uk.
“4 Simple Steps to Prevent Falling: Improve Your Body Balance with Exercise,” About.com Senior Living
“Trauma and Falls in the Elderly,” by Miriam T. Ashkenasy, M.D. and Todd C. Rothenhaus, M.D., for the Emergency Medicine Clinics of North America, www.emed.theclinics.com.