As we head into the colder months, we want to remind our elderly patients to take extra care when maneuvering the ice and snow. Studies show that when facing icy conditions, adults over the age of 65 had double the odds of having great difficulty when leaving their home, and fall-related fractures are statistically higher in older adults during the winter months. Hip and arm fractures are more common among the elderly in cold weather due to the higher incidence of falls. Both of these breaks greatly affect quality of life, and can pose a risk for more health complications. Other serious injuries can also arise from a fall.
At OSSM, our goal is not just to help people heal, but to also set them up for a healthier life. We want our aging adult patients to have a healthy, joy filled winter, and not spend the holidays in a cast or healing after an injury. Being prepared is the key to preventing fractures, and we have some tips to help you do just that this winter:
Give Yourself Extra Time
We all know how it feels to be in a rush: it’s easier to drop things, lose something, and drive a little faster. This winter, giving yourself extra time could be the difference between getting to your destination safely or suffering an injury. Give yourself extra time to get where you are going, and take it slow when maneuvering icy or snowy terrain. Your body will thank you!
Dress For Success
Dressing for cold weather can go beyond earmuffs and a coat. Cold weather shoes or boots with good traction on snow or ice are vitally important to reducing the risk of falling in the winter. For walks, many companies make traction cleats that fit over the bottom of a shoe and provide added help for sure footing. They can be found at stores like REI, or even on amazon and can be used on pavement. Another thing to think about when heading out in the cold: keeping your hands free. Not being weighed down or off balance by carrying heavy bags can help prevent falls, and improve balance.
Winter is the season to use handrails, plan routes according to what is safest, and keep all walkways cleared. Don’t assume a sidewalk or driveway won’t be slippery just by looking at it, make sure to carefully proceed to ensure it isn’t slick. When getting out of a vehicle, plant both feet firmly on the ground before climbing out the rest of the way. This will prevent one foot from slipping out from under you. You can use the door frame of the car to steady yourself and keep your balance.
Checking the weather before you leave or plan an outing can help with preparedness as well. It is also wise to have a safety plan: inform someone before you leave to check in with when you get back home, or carry a cell phone to call for help if you need it. Being extra cautious could prevent an entire winter nursing an injury.
We Can Help
At Orthopedic Surgery and Sports Medicine, our team of board certified and fellowship trained orthopedic specialists are there for you after a fall. We help orthopedic patients every day with fracture care, joint replacement, and so much more. Each of our physicians focuses on one or more unique orthopedic specialties, so we can ensure your need will be met. We treat each patient as an individual, whether you are being seen for a fracture or full joint replacement (and everything in between!).
Our experience doesn’t stop at just treating a fracture or injury however. We help our patients get back to thriving with a custom treatment plan from our team of physical therapists at OPTI (Orthopedic Physical Therapy Institute). Our physical therapists are not only educated and trained to handle a wide variety of orthopedic injuries, surgery recoveries, or maladies, but we also can help with many other complications that may arise from a fall. With our team of experts, we can get your whole body back to functioning, and also help prevent further injuries down the road.
To get back on your feet after surgery or an injury, schedule with our amazing team of physical therapists by calling (208) 966-4476.