The winter can be a beautiful season for everyone to enjoy, but it can also be a dangerous time of year, especially for seniors. It's great to watch the white stuff fall from inside your living room, but if you or one of your senior friends have to get out there, you may want to learn about the most common injuries that seniors sustain in the winter months.
1. Back and Shoulder Strain
Shoveling and cleaning off the cars can be troublesome, especially when the snow is heavy and there's a lot of it. It's a common cause of sprains and strains of the back and shoulders.
Seniors should consider hiring help to clear sidewalks, driveways and vehicles. If seniors still decide to get out there, stretching the back and shoulders is important. Staying hydrated and taking rest breaks will reduce the risk of injury.
Remember, never twist from the spine and always bend from the knees when shoveling.
When clearing snow from the car, remove small portions at a time. Do not attempt to remove all the snow in one big swipe. Removing so much snow at once is very heavy, and easily leads to back and shoulder strains. Start with the snow that's closest to you and slowing make your way back toward the center of the car.
2. Slip and Falls
Snow and ice on sidewalks and driveways can make for treacherous conditions. A simple slip can lead to fractures of the hands/wrist and legs very easily.
Always make sure walkways are clear before heading outside. Make sure to wear proper shoe wear, as improved grip will help in the prevention of a fall.
If a senior plans on staying outside for extended periods of time, whether its going for a hike or shoveling, dressing warm with many layers is essential.
The elderly tend to lose body heat faster than young adults, and the cold can cause damaging effects to their bodies.
In the event a fall occurs and an elderly person cannot get up, it is typically the cold, not the injury sustained from the fall, that causes the most damage. Be sure to check up on your elderly neighbors and friends and make sure their house temperature is adequate and that they are safe in the storms.
4. Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Sometimes, the snow prevents the elderly from getting outside and they stay indoors for many days. Be sure that they have a carbon monoxide monitor in their house and that their fireplaces and heating equipment are properly inspected. Carbon monoxide is a odorless and invisible gas, and the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning increases in the winter among the elderly.
Make sure any exterior pipes are not blocked from the snow and ice. Blocked ventilation can also lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. Seniors may not be able to access these locations in the snow.
Remember to check on your elderly friends and neighbors on the cold, snowy days. Please follow our blog to learn more about shoulder and back stretches to perform prior to shoveling and cleaning snow.