There are so many different hazards in the home, but winter presents even more dangers for slips and falls in older adults. We all stumble sometimes but the elderly can hurt themselves so severely that a fall can cause permanent damage or even death. Balance declines in old age but when an older person falls they are more likely to hurt themselves because as we age our bones are more brittle and our skin is thinner. I have seen falls ruin or end lives. How do you reduce the occurrence of slips and falls?

In general:

  • Wear sensible, well fitting shoes that do not slip on.
  • Do balancing exercises
  • Exercise so that if you do fall you will be strong enough to recover

At home:

  • Do away with or reduce area rugs
  • Reduce clutter in your home
  • Do not go up or down stairs carrying big armloads of ‘stuff’
  • Have someone else do repairs requiring ladders
  • Make sure your home is well lit at night
  • Do not walk in stocking feet in your home
  • Reduce alcohol consumption, especially if you are prone to fall

Out of your house:

  • Know the place where you are going – are there stairs? Elevators? A long walk from the parking lot?
  • Use a cane or walker if you need it. Don’t worry about vanity – worry about safety
  • Many stores will help you put packages in your car. You just need to ask
  • Do not go out if you do not need to if it is snowy or icy
  • Have someone else drive you in bad weather and be dropped off at the door
  • Don’t assume a puddle is water in winter. Black ice is named that for a reason

Even if you do everything on this list there is no guarantee that fall risk will be reduced 100% but these measures will lower your risk of a fall.