Skip to main content

Add fall prevention to winter safety checklist

January 8, 2014

With cold gripping much of the U.S., a lot of focus has been placed on helping seniors avoid dangers such as hypothermia and frostbite, but the winter also poses another threat to healthy aging - falls. Older adults are at a greater risk of falls during the entire year, but that is especially true when winter arrives, with icy conditions making once-safe walkways more treacherous. However, there are some ways for seniors to tread more confidently during the winter months.

Slightly altering the way they walk can help seniors avoid falls on slippery surfaces, according to AARP. More specifically, shortening their strides and bending their knees slightly will help older adults maintain their balance when walking outside during the winter. Seniors may also want to rethink how they walk when on an incline. According to AARP, turning sideways to go up hills will help seniors improve their balance as well.

Older adults should also place an emphasis on exercise that builds leg strength and improves balance. In fact, regular physical activity of any kind is often cited as one of the best ways for seniors to prevent falls - regardless of the time of year.

"It prevents people from falling if you keep your muscles firm," Lisa Schuhle, from New York's Broome County Office for Aging, told CBS affiliate WBNG. "And it does help with your balance so we do encourage people to stay active when they can."

Perhaps most crucial, however, is that seniors take note of areas that are susceptible to being slippery. AARP notes that many falls occur when exiting cars or buses and when going up or down stairs.