Friday, July 10, 2015

Falling Friday - The Isolation of Winter

For several years, I have dreaded winter because of the increasing difficulty I have on walking on ice and snow.  I know I'm not the only one in their golden years (or close to it) with that concern.

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.

Winter can be isolating to a senior afraid to go out.  Visits with friends cease.  Boredom becomes an enemy.  I don't want any of that to happen to me.

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.


  1. Having broken both legs, yes, there used to be days when the mail and newspapers sat in the mailbox if the drive was icy. I've gotten much better about walking in bad weather, but the fear is there, still.

  2. I can appreciate this. I was very pregnant two winters ago and I was terrified to go outside to work. I had to leave really early, often before the salt trucks came and I remember holding onto the gates of the houses and walking with my shoulders to the side of buildings for more support. I can only imagine what it feels like for seniors to navigate the winter ice. At least I knew that I'd have my mobility back in a few months. The tip you gave about walking like a penguin is great. I'll keep it in mind because in a few short months, the ice will return.

  3. I hear you, My favorite season is the fall. I love it is such a balance of cold and warm weather

  4. I keep forgetting about snow. It's something we don't see around here. Well, that's not entirely true. We see it on TV. We can drive 2 hours on winding mountain roads to go and visit it. My point--definitely snowbird. It's the best way.


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