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Winter Weather and Falling - Steps to Take to Keep Your Parents on Their Feet

Nov 9, 2018 by Nancy Hmieleski, RN, BSN Director of Nursing

The CDC reports that three million senior citizens go to the ER following a fall each year. More than 800,000 end up staying in the hospital because of hip fractures or other serious injuries following a fall.

Some falls occur within the house. A senior may slip during or after taking a shower. Climbing onto a chair to reach something can lead to falls. Many falls occur outside the home. An icy staircase, sidewalk, or driveway can be a dangerous setting for the elderly. Here are steps to take to keep your parent from falling this winter.

Hire Someone to Shovel and Clear Ice

You may not have time to clear your parents' driveway. Hire someone to do it for you. You can arrange to have a person come out and shovel or plow and spread deicer after each storm.

Clear Steps Before Attempting Them

If the steps are covered in ice or snow, your parent is best finding another exit, such as a ground-level door. If that's not possible, there should be a covered bucket with sand, ash, or salt that will melt the ice. Pet-safe deicer is available for households that have cats or dogs. 

Your parent should stand at the landing or in the doorway and spread the deicing agent before attempting the stairs. If they can't safely do it, they should stay in and call someone to help.

Make Sure the Steps Have a Sturdy Rail

Once the steps are clear of ice and snow, your parent can go down them. Your mom or dad needs to hold a rail the entire way. If the rail doesn't extend the full length of the stairs, extend it or hire a contractor to do so.

Invest in Ice Cleats

There are ice cleats that attach to the bottom of boots or sneakers. Get your parent a pair. Make sure your mom or dad knows how to put them on before heading outside. Winter boots will provide warmth, but many will slip on ice or packed snow. You need to add the ice cleats.

Take Cautious, Slow Steps

If your parent is walking and doesn't have ice cleats on, a slow, careful walk is best. Each step should be taken to check for black ice. If there's plenty of traction, your parent can move the other foot. It will take longer to walk from one location to another, but safety is what's most important. 

Have a Caregiver Helping Them

Prevent falls by having a caregiver who can walk with your parents when they go outside in the winter. Caregivers can carry in the groceries. They can support your parent while walking on snow or ice. 

If your parent does fall, you should make sure they have home care services during the recovery. Assistance with cleaning, laundry, and meals is essential. A home care adviser can help you with pricing and finding the right caregiver.

Sources:
https://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/falls/adultfalls.html

If you or an elderly loved one are considering homecare in High Bridge, NJ, or the surrounding areas, call the caring professionals at Comfort Keepers of Flemington, NJ. Call today (908) 806-2220.

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