When I took my recent falls prevention class, I found out that a number of the attending seniors don't go out in winter - at all.
|Sullivan County, January 10, 2014|
Winter, here in the Southern Tier of upstate New York, is not a December through March affair. It doesn't go by the calendar. We can have snow in October, and in April. By February, below zero mornings are not unknown.
|My son's house, January 4, 2014 (see middle number)|
Bitter winds blow. We can get over 100 inches (254 cm) of snow in a normal winter.
Neither do the people who teach the "Stepping On" falls prevention class I graduated from last week.
At the falls prevention classes I attended recently, the question of balance, and walking aids, came up more than once. When I say "walking aids for seniors" what most people would immediately think of is the cane, and the walker.
But those aren't our only choices.
For example, some seniors use walking sticks for balance. Others use ski poles. In fact, my instructor suggested, for me, a combination of a product called Yaktrax and ski poles.
Why not? Terrible as it may be to say, but many, when they look at someone using a cane, pity that person or, worse, think of him or her as disabled. On the other hand, ski poles or walking sticks make a different statement: "athlete".
Or, perhaps, penguin, as some experts suggest we walk like penguins, leaning forward, with our centers of gravity over our front legs, and - well waddling with short steps and a wide stance, feet pointing out.
I am never going to like winter. In fact, being able to snowbird (spend the winter in a warmer climate) is one of my retirement dreams.
But I hope I can be more confident in the walking I must do while I am still in upstate New York in the winter. And, I hope that more can be done to decrease isolation for seniors during our harsh winter months.