Winter-savvy seniors know to stay put when the weather turns nasty. Slippery steps and walks, after all, can be hazardous to your health. But experts say cocooning presents its own perils. Older people can be more susceptible to falls during the winter months, not only because of icy sidewalks and driveways, but because they spend greater amounts of time indoors where most falls occur.
Plan an annual safety check to ensure that your home is a safe environment -- especially if your health needs have changed.
The National Center for Injury Prevention and Control recommends:
l Remove all tripping hazards. Repair any tears in linoleum or carpets. Use nonslip mats in the bathtub and on shower floors. Have grab bars put in next to the toilet and in the tub or shower and have handrails put in on both sides of all stairs. (If you already have grab bars or rails, check them for stability. With daily use, rails can get wobbly.) Increase lighting throughout the house.
l Choose footwear, such as walking shoes, that fit properly, provide moderate traction and have laces that can be adjusted for swelling, orthotics or braces. Ask your doctor to review all medicines in order to reduce possible side effects and interactions. Have an eye doctor check your vision each year.
l Purchasing such devices such as a raised toilet seat, tub rail, long-handled duster or a grabber can help older adults avoid serious falls. The devices are available at medical supply stores nationwide for between $5 and $50.