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There is two sides to every winter season in Minnesota – the wonderland created by the glistening snow in the daylight and the hazardous, icy terrain that can lead to injuries if not careful. As accustomed to blustery winters as Minnesotans are, they can still put seniors at risk of falls. Even seemingly harmless activities like walking to the mailbox can become dangerous!

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Minnesota has the third highest fall mortality rate in the United States. This means that, as a Minnesota senior, you should take extra precaution by following these fall prevention tips.

5 Ways to Prevent Falls this Winter in Minnesota

The Mayo Clinic states that chronic conditions, age, a fear of falling, impaired vision and a history of falling can increase your risk of falling this winter season. If one or more of these risk factors applies to you, you should make sure to follow the necessary precautions and tips to avoid injuring yourself:
 

  1. Walk with Caution. One way to avoid falls on snowy or icy ground is to use a slower, wide-walking pattern. For example, any walking you do from your front door to your car or mailbox should be done slowly, with a wider stance and in non-slip shoes. By walking a bit slower, you can better protect yourself against falls.
     
  2. Pay Extra Attention to Your Surroundings. During the winter season, you should treat every outdoor walking area as if it’s a dangerous one. For instance, black ice can form on your driveway or sidewalk and be difficult to identify. Even if you can’t see it, you should assume that black ice is there. Step cautiously when walking outside during the winter and try to grab on to a railing or wall to help balance yourself in the case that you slip.
     
  3. Step in and Out of Your Car Slowly. Getting in and out of your car may seem pretty harmless. After all, it’s an action you can do without really thinking about it. However, add a slippery driveway to the equation and suddenly this becomes a potential hazard. Move very slowly and take as much time as you need to get in and out of your vehicle, and have both feet firmly planted on the ground before you exit. You can also hang on to your car door for extra support to ensure you’re balanced and lower your risk of slipping.
     
  4. Keep Your Driveway Clear. One way you can decrease your risk of falling this winter is by keeping your driveway and sidewalks clear of snow and ice. Instead of doing this yourself (as this can lead to unnecessary injuries), seek a professional service or family member who can do it for you. This will make moving around much easier and safer and help you avoid a driveway that is icy and dangerous. Senior living communities like those offered by Knute Nelson can help you avoid driveway maintenance entirely, as they handle snow removal for you.
     
  5. Dress for the Weather. It’s very important to dress appropriately for the weather any time you go outside. This means that even if you’re just grabbing the mail, you should put on warm, sturdy clothing. Every time you step out your front door, be sure to have on gloves, a thick winter coat and footwear with good traction. Your shoes can lower your chance of falls, but if you do happen to slip and injure yourself, the rest of your clothing can help keep you warm until assistance arrives.

What to Do if You Do Fall this Winter

While there are many prevention tips and best practices to follow to prevent a fall this winter, sometimes accidents still happen. If you do fall outside, here is what you should and should not do to help yourself recover:
 

  • Try not to get up right away or quickly. If you try to immediately stand back up after falling, you could injure yourself further and make the situation more severe. Instead, take your time and gradually see how you feel before you stand back up.
     
  • If you are able to safely get back up after a fall, try to roll onto one of your sides first. Then, slowly bend your knees toward you and push up with your arms. From there, you can use your legs to either crawl back into your house or stand up fully, if you’re able to. Keep in mind this should be a slow, gradual process.
     
  • Use a cellphone or medical alert device if you require assistance getting up from a fall. This is especially important if you are alone outside and no one can hear you calling for help.
     
  • If you’re severely injured after your fall, you should seek emergency medical assistance right away to assess your injuries. If you aren’t sure whether you’re hurt or not, you may still want to seek medical attention to confirm your health.

Stay Safe This Winter at Knute Nelson

At Knute Nelson, we’ve experienced everything from light winter storms to the most severe, blustery blizzards. That’s why we take precautions to ensure our senior living campuses are safe and hazard-free for our residents as they move about during the wintertime. The safety and wellbeing of our residents is and always will our top priority.

Contact us today to learn more about our senior living communities and our approach to resident care at Knute Nelson.