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One of the best parts about living in the Quad Cities is the true pleasure of dealing with icy roads, extreme weather conditions, and the days getting shorter by the minute. For older adults, navigating through the winter weather becomes of particular concern when realizing the true danger that lies in the heart of our beloved cold months. Looking at the true severity that slippery winter weather can bring older adults in regards to fall risk and what you can do about it, is not only important, but necessary.
If you’re reading this, you might be thinking “this guy doesn’t want me to leave my home, does he?” This is of course not the case, as many of us have lots of tasks and errands that we need to accomplish throughout the winter months. The thing about it, is that the winter can be an incredibly problematic time for seniors due to the increased fall risk. If not careful in consideration to the icy and slippery walk and roadways, a winter fall could be incredibly detrimental to one’s health. If you are somebody who already struggles getting off the ground without assistance on a stable surface, this task dramatically increases in difficulty with a slippery area. In addition to this, the Quad Cities are no stranger for below zero temperatures, with frostbite lurking around the corner. The good news is that there are a few actionable things you can do to make the winter months both safe and non-concerning for yourself.
There are so many things to think about when trying to reduce the risk of falls during the winter, which is why I’m going to give you three simple tips.
The first tip is to plan way more time than you need to for an activity. For example, if it usually takes 10 minutes to run to the bank and back home, I would plan for 20. This may seem drastic but think about it: If you are rushing to get your activity done, the chances of yourself checking the icy roadways, walkways, and anywhere else you might be stepping, goes down tremendously. Planning a bit of buffer time can help give you some focused effort at scanning areas for points of fall risk.
Being somebody who works to improve the health and fitness of seniors, it is my obligation to use this as a time to promote fitness. I highly recommend all seniors who aren’t currently doing so, to start participating in balance and strength exercises, classes, or at home routines. If you are able to improve your balance, this decreases the chances of falling greatly. If your strength improves, this does two things: It improves your bone mineral density, decreasing the chances of fracturing a bone if you do fall, and it improves your strength to get off the ground in case you do fall.
Lastly, but still equally important, is to winterize your shoes. If you aren’t currently wearing shoes with a “tire tread” like bottom, this makes a huge difference in how stable you are on slippery surfaces. Do some research online as some shoes are “non-slip.” In addition to this, you can also find some shoe slips that have “pegs” of sorts that are actually metal and can help on other winter surfaces as well.
The winter is something we deal with every single year. And although we love to complain about it, this won’t make the cold (or fall risks) truly go away. With these basic tips, and simply focusing on a bit of intentionality in your day to day tasks, you will be walking into the New Year prepared for any slippery surface Mother Nature throws at you.
For more information on inclusive fitness, please contact Logan Anderson, owner of All Strong Fitness LLC. He can be reached at by phone: (563)-210-3701, email:firstname.lastname@example.org, or website:allstrongfitness.org.
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