Winter Can be a Minefield for Seniors

Comments (0)

Colorado’s sunny winters offer some of the best recreation on the planet. If you’re a skier or snowboarder, an X-Gamer or an ice climber, our state is a winter paradise. Many of our seniors – those over 65 years of age – still ski, shovel their own driveways, and enjoy time outside, all winter long. Active and healthy as we Coloradoans are, our winters bring months of snow and ice that present real dangers to seniors.

 

Anyone can get injured on ice and snow. The risk of suffering a fall in colder weather increases after age 65, and more so after age 75. Nationally, hospitals report up to a 500 percent increase in Emergency Room visits during winter months; most are due to slip and fall accidents. The most common injuries are:

  • Concussions and traumatic brain injuries

  • Ankle or foot fractures: many are attributable to poor balance

  • Hip fractures: more than 95% of hip fractures are caused by falling

  • Stress fractures: especially dangerous, because many go undiagnosed

  • Torn muscles: you can damage soft tissue in efforts to prevent a fall

  • Back/spinal injuries or muscle strain from shoveling snow. This activity is also taxing on the heart, especially for those with heart disease.

  • Vehicle collisions caused by winter driving conditions

 

More than 53 million Americans have osteoporosis; another 44 million have low bone density, which increases the risk of breaking a bone. Pain, swelling, redness, and bruising are signs of a stress fracture, which is more common in winter months, and in people with fragile bones. Even a minor fall can cause substantial damage or permanent disability. Fractures and tissue damage are worse for those with compromised circulation.

 

Many other factors contribute to seniors’ vulnerability in the winter:

  • Medications can cause dizziness, affecting balance

  • Cold snaps can increase blood pressure

  • Poor vision leads to falls and affects ability to care for feet

  • Sensation in feet decreases as we age, causing instability while walking

  • Lighter winter exercise regime allows muscles to weaken

  • Winter depression (seasonal affective disorder) keeps more seniors inside

 

To ensure a healthy winter season, consider these tips:    

  • Balance training exercises reduce senior slip-and-fall incidents by as much as 37%

  • Sprinkle kitty litter or sand on driveways and sidewalks

  • Wear quality footwear with non-slip, treaded soles; boots should be lightweight and insulated for warmth, easy to put on and take off

  • Custom-made orthotic inserts stabilize feet in shoes and boots, and provide excellent arch and heel support

  • Keep feet warm and dry

  • Replace rubber tips on canes and walkers

  • Slow down – better late than injured

 

We Coloradoans are an active lot, and we want to stay that way, at every age. The better we understand the risks presented by winter weather, the better prepared we will be to keep ourselves and our senior loved ones safe. Now is the perfect time to see Dr. O and her team at Podiatry Associates P.C. for a foot and ankle check-up. Visit our website: www.footdoctorscolorado.com or call 303-805-5156 for an appointment at our Cherry Creek, Castle Pines, Parker, or Aurora office.

 
Dr. Cynthia Oberholtzer-Classen, DPM
Founder and Owner of Podiatry Associates, PC
Be the first to comment!

Post a Comment

To reply to this message, enter your reply in the box labeled "Message", hit "Post Message."

Name:*

Email:* (will not be published)

Message:*

Notify me of follow-up comments via email.