It's important that everyone stay safe while walking outside in Winter. However, people with cancer need to be extra careful as they move about in the ice, snow, and cold. People with cancer have a higher risk of falling than the general population.
Chemotherapy, radiation, and other cancer treatments can cause side effects that increase the risk of falls. Weight loss, muscle weakness, numbness or tingling in the feet, dizziness, changes in eyesight, or fatigue may increase the risk. Losing sensation in the feet makes it harder to find balance during challenging situations, like walking on a slippery sidewalk. Finding one’s center of gravity may be harder.
Certain behaviors suggest that a person with a history of cancer may be at greater risk for falls. For instance, they might rely on furniture and walls for support when walking inside their home. The person could trip or almost fall at various times. If they’ve fallen in the past, they might avoid busy sidewalks, the grocery store, people’s homes, or other crowded environments.
There are steps people can take to minimize the risk of falling. For instance, secure throw rugs to the floor with nonslip backing. Clear clutter from walkways. Consider installing handrails in the bathroom. Implement a plan for snow removal before it begins. Wear boots with good traction. People can talk with their doctor to see whether physical therapy might help.
Everyone should keep a cell phone on them at all times in case of a fall or other emergency. They may be able to use a smartphone app that signals a fall to emergency responders. Or, a smartwatch might have an alert system that can tell if a fall occurs and can call 911 if needed.
If a person falls, they immediately should contact their medical team to determine whether they need follow-up care or a referral to physical therapy. If so, the physical therapist will show the person exercises that promote balance, strength, stability, and strategies for safely getting up from the floor if a fall occurs.
If you or someone you know has cancer, contact Chix 4 a Cause. Learn more about the financial and emotional support we provide through our Gifts of Love program. Visit chix4acause.org today.