Colder weather brings the ice and snow, which starts to limit outdoor access for many people. People who use daily mobility aids are especially affected by the changing of seasons, as mobility is already limited, and safety risks rise with the unsturdy surfaces.
At long-term care and retirement residences, mobility aids are a popular way for residents to maintain autonomy and freedom of movement while staying safe and working with their physical limitations. When the snow falls, these mobility aids can still be helpful for outdoor adventures but need some extra care and caution to remain safe. Outdoor excursions don’t have to stop just because of the snow, but here are some things to keep in mind when it comes to winterizing your mobility aids.
Walkers and canes
Walkers and canes are mobility devices that do not require power to operate. They are often lightweight and manual, offering more stability to those who use them. Canes and walkers are recommended for people who struggle to stay balanced and can be great companions in the winter for outdoor walks to add additional support and balance. When maintaining your cane or walker during the winter, it is important to keep an eye on the wear and tear of the feet/bottom of the device. For canes, the rubber cap at the bottom can be easily damaged by ice and snow. These can be replaced easily and often. Canes can also have additional interchangeable tips that act as ice grips for creating further friction through the snow. Just be sure to change or remove these before you move back inside! For walkers, some folks opt for a heavy-duty wheel to help move over the snow, but anything with operating wheels will struggle with the uneven ground. Try your best to make sure that your walking path is clear and salted and wipe down your mobility device when you get indoors to prevent salt damage.
Wheelchairs and motorized devices
Canadian winters can be especially rough on those who rely on wheelchairs to get around. Sidewalks are often unattended and pose serious hurdles for folks who are reliant on wheelchairs. Many long-term care and retirement homes prioritize sidewalk maintenance within the residence so that those who use wheelchairs can enjoy the snowy season safely. Motorized wheelchairs and scooters are better for snowy sidewalks because of the extra power. Be mindful that the wheelchair wheels are waterproof and safe for the outdoors, and make sure that you thoroughly dry the wheels and undercarriage when returning indoors to avoid damage.
Footwear isn’t necessarily a mobility device, but it sure is a safety aid in the winter. Wearing proper footwear can prevent slips and falls and make walking feel more stable and safer. Wearing winter boots that keep your feet warm and dry is important for weather safety to avoid getting too cold. Shoes with additional traction or snow spikes are even better, because they will provide extra protection from imbalance and uneven ground.
Storing your mobility devices
When you’re all done with your time outside, caring for your mobility devices will help with their safety and longevity. Storing your mobility aids in a dry, warm space is the best way to prevent damage. If your device is motorized, remove the batteries and store them separately while being mindful of replacing them in a timely manner. With your mobility aids well cared-for, they can be used or donated and help you or others navigate outdoor adventures in the snow for years to come.
If you are unsure about what mobility aid is right for you, speak to a medical professional to get guidance on your options. Safety is the priority, and enjoying the winter weather to the best of your abilities comes in as a close second.
To learn more about Omni residences and activities, go to https://omniqualityliving.ca/.