The temperature drops, snow starts to fall, and just like that, winter is in full swing. But with the beautiful glistening snow comes a higher risk for slips and falls among elderly people living at home.More snow and ice makes for slippery sidewalks and outdoor steps, and its easy for a senior to take one misstep and have a potentially catastrophic fall.

Couple smiling in snow

While there are measures you can take to prevent falls in your home and during winter, you or a senior you know should be aware of what to do in case of a winter slipHeres what to do if you fall during winter:

If You Have a Fall

First, remain on the ground for a few moments to catch your breath and get over the surprise of a sudden fall. Take several deep breaths and remain calm. Assess your body and try to determine if you have an injuries.

If you believe that you can get up safely without any assistance, start by rolling over onto your side. Pause at this point so that your body and blood pressure can adjust, then slowly get up on your hands and knees and crawl to a sturdy chair or bed. Place your hands on the seat and slide one foot forward so that its flat on the floor. Keep your other leg bent so that your knee is on the floor, and from this position, slowly get up and rotate your body to sit on the furniture.

If you feel discomfort, pain, or think youre unable to get up, first, try to get help. Call out for help if you think someone might here you, and if you have an emergency alert device or telephone nearby, use it. If theres nothing within arms reach, try to slide or crawl to a telephone or place where someone might hear you better. Make noise to attract attention by banging on the floor or wall, and wait for help in a comfortable position. If possible, put a pillow under your head and cover yourself (especially your legs and feet) with a blanket or dressing gown to stay warm if you go into shock. Try to move every thirty minutes or so to ease circulation and prevent stiffness in your joints.

If You See a Senior Fall

If you witness a senior falling, dont try to help them get up right away. Instead, ask them questions to help determine if theres been an injury. Reassure the senior and remain calm.

If he or she cannot get up, call 911 and provide first aid care if you can. Help the senior find a comfortable resting position and cover him or her with a blanket to stay warm, using a pillow for extra comfort.

If the senior seems able to get up, bring a chair close by and carefully help them turn onto their side and bend their upper leg to rise into a semi-seated position. Place yourself behind the senior and firmly grip their hips, assisting the senior to a kneeling position with both hands on the chair. While the senior grips the chair, have them place their stronger leg in front and help guide the leg if necessary. Finally, still with your firm grip on their hips, help the senior to stand and then turn to sit on the chair.

Warning Signs of Falls and When to See a Doctor

Even if the senior seems to be all right after a fall, there may be negative effects afterwards that should lead to seeing a doctor. These side effects could include:

  • Losing consciousness before or after the fall
  • Injuries
  • Lingering pain
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Overall weakness
  • Headaches
  • Vision problems

These symptoms can show up in the days after a fall, and sometimes, a fall can signify an illness or problems with medication. Take no risks, and call your doctor about the fall so that they can assess the situation and determine the reason for the fall.

A fall can be very harmful for a senior aging at home, but if you know what to do, you can greatly diminish the seniors risking of incurring further injury. If a senior you know is already having trouble walking, encourage them to use a power chair or a mobility scooter; furthermore, consider installing an outdoor stair lift to decrease the chance of falling on slippery or icy outdoor stairs. For more information on how Home Access Products can help you prevent falls in your home with our home care solutions and products for senior citizens, call us today.