Friday, October 30, 2015

Falling Friday - Preparing for Winter

Fall, for some, is the most wonderful time of the year.

It's a time of beauty, of seeing how nature decorates.

But it is followed by winter, here in upstate New York.

Winter is a special challenge to the elderly.  I took a falls prevention class this past May and June.  I was (at 62) the youngest person in the class.

I was saddened, but not surprised, to find that many seniors in my falls prevention class do not try to venture out during the winter.

And here, in upstate New York, we have a long winter.

Why? Fear of falling.  

The falls prevention class taught us a number of techniques to deal with winter.  They include:

Taking our time in walking or getting to a destination.

If we know we won't be leaving a restaurant or store until dark, being sure we park under a light.

Keeping handrails on our outdoor steps firm. Using tread material on the stairs (which remind me, mine need to be replaced.)

Wearing boots with non skid soles. Totes makes them, and there are my L.L. Bean snow sneakers.

Walking like a penguin.

Making sure, if you walk with a cane, you use a winter tip.

We were told to consider Yaktrax or a similar product. These slip over the soles of your shoes, and provide a lot of traction on ice and snow.  My guest photographer, who lives in the countryside, swears by them.

I used a similar product one year, and had problems balancing on it.  I have not used Yaktrax.  One caution, though - on non ice covered surfaces, the yaktrax become quite slippery.  (You don't want to walk on your wood laminate floors with them on, for example.)

Or, you can use walking sticks, hiking sticks or hiking poles.  Our instructor explained these make you look sporty or fit. 

Sadly, watching someone use a cane brings up quite a different image in our society - the cane user is old, helpless, and other like stereotypes.  But snow poles?  It's athletic!  It's physical fitness! It's exercise!

But, for me and others, the fear of falling remains. 

Do you have any techniques for staying safe in snow you would want to share with my readers?

9 comments:

  1. Oh, yes. I have to invest in some snow poles. That would make me look good. Hehe. But seriously, you make a good point. We need to walk outside, no matter what the weather.

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    1. Sad, but true. And winter scares me.

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  2. I think I will do a post about my experience with falling. I've broken both legs and at age 69 there are days in winter when I drive my garbage down to the street for pick-up. Walking on ice is the scariest thing I know.

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    1. Me, too, Denise, and if I had a long driveway, that would be so tempting.

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  3. I can imagine that it is something quite scary. That's great that there is a class to help seniors with that!

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    1. I guess the next couple of weeks, as our snowy weather starts, will prove just how much the anti-falling exercises have improved my balance.

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  4. The only tip I would have is to move someplace where it doesn't snow. Sorry. As the only way I see snow is after a 2 hour car trip up twisty mountain roads, I have little experience with the white stuff.

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  5. Before I had my total knee replacements, I fell frequently. My solid new knees are keeping squarely upright. However, a fall could hurt my solid new knees. I've been using walking sticks during my warm weather walks and hikes, and they've kept my balance on rough terrain. Don't know why I never thought of using them for winter, but I'm glad that you did.

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  6. I have yaktrax all ready to use! And my ski poles!!!

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