By Zee Chevalier
March, when days are getting long,
Let thy growing hours be strong.
To set right some wintry wrong.
Caroline May, 1887
Daylight Saving starts March 10, and the first day of spring is March 20. That is just a few weeks from today. How will it be? We had snowfall in September when we usually would say it is autumn, and snow fell at the end of February, when we would be expecting spring. The weather clock seems out of sync!
In keeping with the Fall Prevention theme, the focus will be on preventing falls in winter, as this is so appropriate for this weather we are experiencing at this time.
In a newspaper article in The Journal Kelly Wilson, an Interior Health Quality Consultant, Falls and Injury Prevention, had this to say: “More people fall during our cold Canadian winter than during any other season.” Of course, one of any age can fall, but the consequence of falls differs appreciably across various age groups. Young people who fall may injure no more than their dignity. Older people are more vulnerable to serious fractures or head injury. The fall takes only a second; the result may be long term rehabilitation, permanent disability, or even death. Most at risk are older, frail, weaker, inactive individuals who don’t venture out a lot, particularly in winter, perhaps because of fear of falling.
Falls are a serious threat to seniors’ health and independence. Winter weather creates special circumstances.
Steps and sidewalks need to be kept clear of fallen snow. Temperature changes create a freeze/thaw cycle, making for extremely icy conditions. Spread salt and/or sand to reduce the risk of a fall.
Wear good footwear with anti-slip soles. Even winter boots differ in the amount of slip resistance they offer. At the February Seniors’ meeting this was a discussion topic, and seniors were reminded to be cautious with cleats and spikes designed for outdoor icy conditions, as they can increase your risk of falls on icy surfaces.
People who have an active lifestyle usually fare better in the wintry outdoors than their more sedentary counterparts. Inactivity in any season can lead to muscle loss, which decreases strength and balance. If walking outdoors in winter is not an option, do more indoor walking at your local gym, or even in the hallways of your apartment building or your home. Swimming is another excellent way to stay limber, but it’s not always available.
Wear a helmet. Not too many seniors I know go in for skating, skiing, snowboarding, or snowmobiling, but many adults and children do. An essential is a helmet. They keep your head warm and protect your brain.
Avoid distractions. Very importantly, when you are walking, leave the cell phone in your pocket or purse. Avoid rushing. Be mindful of your surroundings. Plan your route to avoid steep, slippery slopes or unshovelled walks, if possible.
It goes without saying you should be eating healthy foods and drinking plenty of water. Poor nutrition and dehydration can make you feel dizzy.
Many seniors/adults take medications daily. Multiple prescriptions may increase your risk of falling. Some meds can cause dizziness and drowsiness and make you unsteady. Of course if this is happening, you must tell your doctor or nurse practitioner or pharmacist right away. Don’t stop taking your medication without consultation.
Of course, partaking in activities we enjoy entails a level of risk which we can’t eliminate completely, but observing the suggestions above can greatly decrease our chance of a fall. Enjoy the winter season and be safe!
The Clinton Seniors’ Association welcomed Diana Guerin to the February meeting. She is employed by B.C. Emergency Health Services, and imparted information on Community Paramedicine.
Diana did a demonstration, and encouraged everyone to do appropriate exercises designed for seniors, particularly those who are housebound or recovering from health issues and/or surgeries and who are unable to move about freely indoors or out. Thank you, Diana, for sharing your knowledge and expertise.
The next regular general meeting of the Clinton Seniors’ Association is March 21, following lunch at the Seniors’ Centre at 217 Smith Avenue.
Happy March birthday wishes to Elnora Edwards on the 25th, and to both Alice Crosson and Mary Burrage on the 27th.
“Forty is the old age of youth, fifty is the youth of old age.”