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Front Page » February 7, 2008 » Senior Focus » A Seniors Guide for Walking in the Winter Snow and Ice
Published 2,448 days ago

A Seniors Guide for Walking in the Winter Snow and Ice


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Ice and snow can be treacherous if walkers don't have the proper footwear for traveling in it.

Winter is a beautiful time, but for everyone, and particularly seniors it can also be very dangerous time.

Something as simple as a walk in the snow can lead to injury during the winter. That's why it is a good idea to look closely at some of the activities people normally do during the winter, and analyze how they can be made safer.

For those walks around the neighborhood, light hiking or even for a trip to the store choose a good pair of winter boots to wear.

For warmth and stability on ice and snow look to see if they are well insulated, waterproof, have a thick, non-slip tread sole have wide, low heels and are light in weight.

For those that have to walk with a cane to balance themselves have it fitted to the right height for the person it is meant for. When a cane is held upside down, the end should be at wrist level. Many health care providers can give good advice on what kind of a cane is needed. But the cane must also be adapted for the winter weather. A good way to attain stability is to attach an ice pick at the end of the cane. Cane picks can be slippery on hard surfaces they need to be flipped back when the user goes indoors. Picks are available at many drug and department stores.

If more support is needed on snow and ice, use a walker. Costs for walkers can sometimes be provided through insurance and other avenues of funding.

For those that are concerned about falling outside a hip protector can help. It can help protect the hips against fractures and give added confidence when walking out-of-doors.

Another good idea is to carry a small bag of grit, sand or non-clumping cat litter in a pocket or handbag, to sprinkle when confronted with icy sidewalks or steps.

Facing an icy surface can be an upsetting experience. Body movements can increase a persons stability on an icy surface.

First of all, slow down and think about the next move that needs to be made. Keeping the body as loose as possible, spread the feet to more than a foot apart to provide a base of support. Keep the knees loose and don't lock them up. Even bending them will help. This will keep the body's center of gravity lower to the ground. Make the first step small, placing the entire foot down all at once. Then shift the weight of the body very slowly to the foot that has been placed on the surface and bring the other foot into place to meet it the same way. Always keep a wide base of support. Some people feel that dragging or shuffling the feet is helpful. The main thing to remember is to place the whole foot on the ice at once and keep the base of the body support approximately one foot wide.

Many slipping accidents because of ice and snow happen right at home. Keep entrances and sidewalks clear of ice and snow.

In the dismal days of winter sometimes drivers can be concentrating on so many things they may not see a person walking on or across a roadway.

Help motorists to see the pedestrian by wearing bright colors or by adding reflective material to clothing, particularly if walking is done in the evening or early in the morning.

Heat loss from a persons body can also cause problems for seniors. Prevent it by wearing a warm hat, scarf, and mittens or gloves. The weather will determine how to dress, but layers are good because some can be removed if the day that looks dismal at first turns into a sunny one.

The one cardinal rule of walking in the winter whether it is for exercise or for necessity, is to expect the unexpected. An uncleared sidewalk or icy curb can make a nice walk or a trip to a neighbors a nightmare. Be ready to face it.


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February 7, 2008
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