Winter darkness and ice increase the risk of falls for seniors
(NC) For our aging family, friends and neighbours, falling is always a serious risk. That risk can increase in the winter months, when darkness lasts longer and rain, ice or snow can make even stepping out onto the front porch to get the mail or newspaper a dangerous venture.
According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, falls account for more than half of all injuries among Canadians over 65 years. But there some basic steps you can take to reduce the risk for your older neighbours and loved ones:
• Ensure proper lighting inside and out.
• Encourage the use of appropriate footwear: heels and soles made with anti-skid materials, and boots that provide good traction. Even if just stepping outside to sweep off the stairs.
• Keep porches, sidewalks and driveways clear of ice; apply de-icing material. Salt should be kept inside the house to avoid needing to walk across an icy pathway to get to it.
• Keep steps and railings leading to the house in good repair. Weak or wobbly stairs increase the risk in dark, damp or icy conditions.
• Reinforce the importance of slowing down. People are much more prone to losing their balance if they are rushing.
Given the risk of falls and the increased injury the longer a person is down, a medical alert service such as Philips Lifeline can offer peace of mind and a better outcome in the event of a fall or medical emergency in the home. Philips Lifeline is an easy-to-use personal response service that enables users to summon help at any time by pushing a button they wear - even if they are unable to speak. This connects to the 24 hour Response Centre where a Philips Lifeline Associate will contact a neighbour, loved one or emergency services based on their needs. For an added layer of protection, Lifeline with AutoAlert will automatically place a call for help if a fall is detected. During the installation appointment, the Philips Lifeline Home Service Representative tests the button range beyond the house to assess where it works on your porch, garden, or elsewhere on your grounds. However, maintaining common sense precautions are critical to reducing the risk of falls in the coming winter months.
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