How could a senior adult end up in hospital or rehab due to shoveling snow? Quite easily, unfortunately. The combination of weather factors and health factors could put a person into senior rehab due to shoveling snow.
Snow seems like such a pure, innocent material. It’s soft, white and comes down, oh, so quietly. But once it’s there, and it is a large, freezing cold blanket of white, we seem to have an urge to just get it out of the way.
The Weather-Health Forecast (Forewarned for Safety)
The problems and dangers that arise from shoveling snow are collected into a few categories:
- Heart issues – cardiac arrest, stroke and chest pain due to over-exertion
- Poor posture – you’ve got to learn how if you are going to get it right, read on below for tips
- Falls and slips – the most common injury for seniors, all year round, causing fractures and breaks
When snow covers a person’s driveway, the first thing they think of is “How am I going to be able to drive in this?”
Perhaps they should begin with: “Am I ready to shovel snow?”
A senior or a person with a history of heart issues, must get their doctor’s approval before they begin snow shoveling or snow pushing. It is a most strenuous activity.
If you live in a snowy area, plan for success before the snow hits.
The Right Way to Shovel Snow
Avoid senior rehab due to shoveling snow – and share this info with your relatives.
Here are some tips, culled from the excellent guide presented in the Nationwide Children’s Hospital site.
No Snow Business
- Get your doctor’s approval as to whether you may shovel snow at all.
- Think about whether you are fit enough to shovel snow. Can someone else do it? Can you get hold of de-ice spray, salty grit, or a snow blower? You can save your energy for better things…
- If you have subfloor or sub-pavement heating, this is the time to switch it on. If you can’t shovel, skimp on your energy, not on your health.
Yes to Shoveling, Carefully
- Find out about ergonomically designed snow shovels or snow pushers.
- Warm up before shoveling, by doing walking or running on an indoor machine for 1 mile at 2.5 miles/hour.
- Never shovel snow right after you wake up – wait 45 minutes to an hour after you were sleeping, so your blood can get flowing.
- Eat a light breakfast first.
- Shovel for short amounts of time. If you feel tired – stop. Don’t force your body.
- Conserve energy. Firstly, if you can, push the snow instead of lifting it, secondly, lift small loads of snow for a longer amount of time, and thirdly, gently tip snow off the shovel, don’t toss it over your shoulder.
Common Sense is not that Common
- Dress up warmly to shovel in the cold. This is very important for a senior who wants to shovel snow. The cold constricts the blood vessels. How will the heart get enough blood and oxygen if a senior is going all-out to shift the snow, in the cold?
- Wear slip-resistant footwear.
- Keep your phone on you. Set a timer for breaks. 40 minutes for someone who is fit, 20 minutes for an average person and 10 minutes for someone who does not exercise regularly.
- Call for emergency help, if you feel chest pain while shoveling snow. What are the warning signs? Discomfort in the chest, shortness of breath, aching arms, back, neck or jaw, pain in the stomach. Those are all possible signs of a heart attack. A doctor should check a person with those symptoms, right away.
A person in senior rehab due to shoveling snow, may need different forms of therapy to get back to as good health as possible. Physical therapy, pain management, medicine management, or speech therapy are some of the types of help a senior might need. Sleeping as much as possible in a healthy way and eating high protein nutritious meals would be part of the effort to make the most of being in senior rehab due to shoveling snow.