• Avoiding winter falls

    With the icy surfaces, bad weather and increased hours of darkness, any of us could take a tumble in winter. Older people are particularly vulnerable as they’re more likely to experience poor balance and vision, muscle weakness or long-term health conditions. Even simple tasks like taking out the rubbish pose a risk when driveways and paths freeze over.

    Older people are also more likely to break bones if they take a fall. And that can result in more long-term problems like feelings of withdrawal, damaged confidence and a loss of independence. But there are some simple steps [no pun intended!] you can take to avoid nasty falls this winter.

    1. Treat surfaces: Spread sand or salt on icy surfaces, like footpaths, driveways and steps. When the weather’s fine, clear surfaces of mud, which gets very slippery when it’s wet or icy.

    2. Think about your footwear: If the weather’s cold or wet, choose flat shoes with slip-resistant sole and a good tread to help you grip those dodgy pathways.

    3. Take care walking: Always walk carefully, and avoid sudden changes in direction. Concentrate on where you’re walking and try to anticipate any hazards, like ice patches ahead. Also, try not to carry things that obstruct your view and upset your balance, such as heavy shopping bags.

    And finally, think about whether you actually need to go outside. It usually makes sense to put an activity off while the weather’s particularly bad.

    Dr Justin Geddes

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