With winter coming, prepare now to avoid falls in your home or your parents’ home. Dr. Shawn Weiss advises checking the outside of the house for safety at entryways, lighting, clearing pathways to avoid tripping hazards. Winter safety also includes shoes and shovels stored nearby. If there are issues getting in and out of the house, add or check the sturdiness of handrails. Inside the home, make sure rugs can absorb moisture from shoes so they aren’t slippery. Winter clothes are also important – make sure the clothing isn’t so bulky that it’ll catch on something, and that shoes have good tread. Spend extra money to get well-supported, cushioned shoes to minimize pain or negative effects to your stride.
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*The following is the output of transcribing from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases it is incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.
The following podcast is by Dr Shaun Wewiss, president of Senior Health and Wellness Group, on the answers for elders radio network. And Welcome back everyone to the answers for elders podcast network with Dr Sean Weiss from the Senior Health and wellness network. And Sean, I’m so glad that we are talking about these issues that we need to really start addressing now that it’s the fall and we’re moving into the winter season. I can’t believe how fast this year has flown by and but here we are, summers over. I know, with with my time, and you know I’m a rose gardener and I’ve got rose hips all over my rose Bush. Isn’t your here? I am going. I love the rose hips. I don’t want to cut them off, but they’re way too tall. I know they’re going to fall over, they’re going to make a mess, they’re going to get in my way. So I have to do the responsible thing. But I think a lot of us don’t think about internal and external and we also don’t think about, you know, what is our what is our environment doing, and how to can we be adequately prepared, because I’m sure in the wintertime with ice and snow and being cold. There’s a lot of factors now that can affect our seniors. Is that correct? Yeah, absolutely. I mean, if you are thinking about right now, you’re you know when you’re coming up, it’s time to prep pair now. Is it your own home or is it your parents home? Is it your grandparents home? Let’s start preparing now, before the cold and the snow and the ICE COM and you’re exactly right. You tend the neglect the outside of the house, which causes a lot of issues for fall risk. So we are, you know, we start out the process. There’s a lot, lots of checklist and being in the home health world, you know that’s the first thing. You know, when I’m coming to a person’s home for the first time, I’m observing the outside of the home. I’m observing the entry ways. Is it safe? Do we need to make recommendations? But these are certain things that you can do ahead of time, even if you don’t have a homehealth provider to come in and let you know. So we do. We look at the first thing on the outside is we’re looking at lighting and we’re looking at clearing the pathways, just like you said. You know, if you are a gardener, or your shrubbery or your grasses to be cut back, because as soon as the snowfalls, those things are going to come down onto your pathway, maybe near your steps, covering areas. Makes it a huge tripping hazard. So lighting and clearing the pathway of debris and maybe you can hire that out. If you’re not able to do it yourself, you can have a grandson or a neighbor prepare you now and not wait us into the weather turns absolutely so. So tell us a little bit. I’m sure you probably have a checklist for window going you. Yeah, we have all kinds of things that we go through on the checklist when we’re doing home safety assessments where we’re looking inside the home and outside the home. So when we’re looking for winter safety, again, anything that’s going to be a tripping hazard on the outside of the home, and we just talked about lighting and clearing the pathways, we want to make sure shovels and things of that nature, if you’re living in a part of the country where you’re going to get some snow and ice, hmm, that those are placed near the door and ready to go. You don’t necessarily want to have to go somewhere that’s slippery to go retrieve your shovel. Good Point. You want to have everything, your brooms and your shovels, readily by the door. So that’s something that we advise our patients to do. You also want to look at if you’re having issues getting in and out of the House now. Maybe you did it last winter, but maybe this winter you do. Let’s look at installing handrails, things that are make things a little bit more sturdy. Or if you have handrails, let’s make sure they are secure. Has Anything happened in the last year, whether it’s wind or a storm, or they just been there for a number of years and you need to check for sturdiness of those, especially if you have a loved one that maybe’s living with you now, or maybe grandma’s coming to stay and they need to be able to access the home and you certainly want to make sure those hand rails are secure so that their safety is not affected. Inside the home. We’re looking at having rugs, rugs that can handle the moisture when you come into the house so that your shoes are not slippery, so then if you’re at a fall risk, you’re not going to take your first steps onto your your wood or your tile floor and have a trophy hazard. When you say rugs that are, you know, that will absorb moisture, type of rug like is Mike, a microfiber or a a make and micro they make me know you could have two things. You can have the Nice, sturdy, heavy kind of rubber rugs that kind of right the moisture down off the top, or they make those microfiber type rugs that just kind of like wicks, like you know, they huck up them moisture so that when you’re stepping out from the outside that maybe it’s snowy, sure, trying to get up most off the bottomaber shoes or making sure you’re removing your shoes before you start stepping if you don’t have a carpet in your home with write a wood floor, if you have a tile floor. No, definitely looking at that. Well, and I think too when you say that, is to make sure that those rugs are post off and cleaned. If it’s outside in a patio or something like that, if they have grime on them and stuff like them, that’s not going to help you much. So right, I know we have a very wet Pacific northwest. You do. Yes, no, wait, it’s we can snow here in Ohio, but now you get slicky if we get rain. Yes, but I think one of the things that we deal with is a lot of the algae and a lot of the you know, stuff off the roof falls, you know, old and things of that nature. Great and moss worm drains things like that. So making sure that you’re that when you know not only that it’s a proper type of rug but that it’s cleared off and it’s that it’s you know, and that’s maybe once every week and during the winter, is to make sure that that that rug is cleaned off and you know, and I always just take mine and hang them up and then vacuum after they drink, is that it’s up all the stuff. But again, it really depends on, you know, what’s your climate is, for sure. It definitely depends on what part of the country. You know, the people that are down, you know, in the southwestern like what she talking about. You know, it’s not going to get below sixty degrees. And we’re talking about the lucky ones in the North Hemisphere here. Of the both of us, I know, Sirr, parts like they already got the snow, you know, we’re already behind and telling them these things, right. Oh yeah, important, really important things, you know. And the something else we think about, especially when, you know, we’re looking at our residence that we take care of and the homes health study, but certainly can apply to your rem parents or your parents, is let’s say you’re living alone, you’re going out to get the mail, it’s winter, you have the issues with the wet surfaces and you are at a fall risk. Now it’s the time to get a life alert cype system. I just got one from my mom just so I felt good about her go if she had to go outside and something happened, she’s going to be able to call the emergency and they will call and that make sure she’s okay. So anytime you’re in that type of weather situation and you are alone and you already know that you’re at a risk for falls and you feel like you must, must, must, go outside and you can wait for somebody to get there, because that would be the first thing. Let’s just play in this ahead, right. I think you need to go out. It’s really great to have some type of life alert system. They’re all kinds of really great ones on the market. Yeah, very inexpensive. It really could help prevent something terrible for happy. So we’ve talked about the outside and winter safety, but also, you know, our bodies change in a year. We have, you know, some of us are warmer or colder from one year to the next. How do you address those types of issues? Well, we’re looking at you know, we always talk about hydration and things like that in the summer, but it’s even more so important in the winter time staying hydrated. Our activity levels tend to go down in the winter. We’re not going outside as much, we’re not taking the walks. So exercising on a daily basis, but exercise and in a safe way. So there’s plenty of really great seated exercise programs. I’m ready to post my winter safety seated exercise list on on the website, so this time of years when I do that, so that you can safely keep your strength up, keep your endurance up so that you’re not getting weak when you know, especially if you think about the last year with people being in corner teaen or people being an isolation or just not going out as much. You have that already happening. So now here comes winter, when you’re probably maybe not at your strongest to start with, right, and now here comes the weather changes and you’re not going out. You don’t want to, you know, cause a greater problem than maybe you already have. So starting a seated program is seat, it’s safe, it’s easy to do on a daily basis. You can do them with your with each other. We have husbands and wives do them together. We give them the sheets or maybe your daughter Son’s going to come over and make sure they’re supervising. So eating properly, the right nutrients, hydration and then making sure you’re keeping up with your exercises really really important this time of year and it’s not too late to start. To start now. Yeah, and I think sometimes hydration is harder to get somebody to drink water during the winter months, right, because so you know, you could be created a little bit creative and do like an herbal tea or something like that. Is that an option right? Anything that’s not, you know, we don’t promote anything that’s caffeinated. If we have some of you definitely has hydration issues. But teaser teas are great, herbal teas are great. We like to have families go get the big maybe it’s a Jettie Cup or maybe it’s something that has a handle, that’s maybe a twenty eight to thirty two ounce cup, and we’re like, okay, at least three of those a day. You know, I very easy to manage. It’s very you know, I’m going to fill this up in the morning and I can keep it with me and I can May and monitor how much I’m drinking, because if you’re you know, that’s an easy, easy way to do it, so that you fill it up in the morning and then after lunch you want it, you should be ready to fill it up again and that way you know you’re tracking things appropriately. It really does work. It’s been really helpful. Absolutely. So what about clothing for the winter? You know I’m always cold, so in the winter I want to bump. Are Very Slim? I’m not. No, I don’t think. I don’t know about that anymore. Fifteen, it all went downhill, but what we see, especially in our seniors, is that they want to just, you know, because they’re they’re cold right their circulation. We always shoes with that they really are bundled up. So you really want to make sure you’re not having to clothing that’s too bulky, that might get caught on something if you go outside. Is it going to catch on the limb? Is it not just inside but outside? So making sure you’re clothing is not too big and bulky. Is it hanging over your hands? Is it going to create more of a hazard even though it’s keeping you warm? First thing look at. The second thing is making sure you have shoes that have a good tread, good one. You want something that’s, you know, not the super heavy shoes, especially if you are at a fall risk. But look at the bottoms of your shoes. We’re not going to be doing the flats or the same goals or anything like that. They need to have a grip. So changing your shoes for this time of year is really critical. Well, I think also there’s a lot of great manufactures out there that make shoes with arch supports and an orthopedic type support which, believe it or not, I wear because of you know, it’s just safer and it’s more practical for every day and when you’re in and out and going places. I think, especially as a senior, you know you’re not as spry as you used to be. You know what I see and you know companies like sketchers even they make a wonderful non skid type of tennis shoe. You can find them on the website, you can find them in the stores and relatively and expensive. And of course diabetics already kind of wear nice, secure shoes to you know, there’s they know how it works, but do not take that for granted in terms of prevention. Well, and I think the other thing that, yeah, there’s there’s a million. I wear bionics, which I think is even a step above that’s catchers. Yeah, but again it’s the it’s the ability and Nice thing about it is everyone, I will say orthopedic shoes used to be uglier than anything. They’re not. They’re not we think it’s fat. They’re fashionable shoes and I’ve got some really fun, you know, boots that are snake skin that are really kind of fun. That and their orthopedic. It’s amazing what you can get out there. So those again for listeners. You know, spend the extra dollars to get good supporting shoes. I think is really important. That will haul your foot and hole in the right position and that can meet often meet an art support or you know, proper cushioning. So because some people will have heal pain on those types of things can also affect your walking. Is that not correct? Absolutely, if you don’t have the right support, if you’re the one that wearing flat sandals, are going therefoot all the time and your have orthopedic issues, you have pain. Just changing the type of she you’re wearing, where you’re getting more support up the chain can greatly reduce your pain and then that’s greatly reduce your risk for folly. Yeah, so everyone, we’re going to keep talking about all of these things and right now we’re going to move on to why is home help? How can you help strengthen help your loved one move around and specifically, what is this all mean and who pays for it? Sean will be right back right after this. We would like to thank you for listening to this podcast by Dr Shaun Weiss, CEO of Senior Health and wellness group focusing on wellness and prevention strategies for seniors. As a fall prevention specialist, Dr Weiss provides family support and education to keep your loved one safe. You can learn more by visiting her website at www dot senior health and wellness Dot Org
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Originally published November 14, 2021