Winter and Cold Weather Safety for Seniors
Winter is a trying time for anyone, but it can be even more difficult for seniors and their caregivers. The good news, however, is that winter can be much easier to weather if you have a few top tips at hand. With a positive outlook and a bit of planning, preparation, and assistance, you and the loved one you care for can get through it together safely, and with ease!
Watch for Ice
Falls due to ice and icy conditions are the primary factor for seniors to slip and fall during the winter months. Unfortunately, some of these falls can lead to substantial injuries such as wrist and hip fractures, lacerations, and head trauma, and these injuries are often leading causes of death from injury in seniors.
Be sure seniors wear shoes that have non-skid soles and good traction, and don’t leave until the roads and sidewalks are clear. Cane tips should also be replaced if needed in order to ensure that walking is made stable. Inside your home always remove shoes so that you aren’t tracking in ice, snow and water into the home which can make your floors slippery and wet.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), over half of the hypothermia-related deaths in recent years were people who were over age 65. Drastically low temperatures can lead to hypothermia and frostbite, so it is of the utmost important that you don’t allow indoor temperatures to get too cool, and if you are going outside, to dress in layers and keep your body covered. Using a scarf to cover your mouth is crucial to protecting your lungs as well. If a seniors body dips below 95 degrees, medical attention needs to be sought as soon as possible.
It is hard for seniors to get out and about and have social connections with other people during winter, and this can lead to feelings of isolation, loneliness, and depression. Family members and friends should try and visit their senior loved ones as much as they can, even if it is just with a simple phone call. This can play a huge role in helping them stave off depression during the winter months. Caregivers may also want to arrange for transporting their loved one to places where they can personally socialize such as adult daycares, the library, or even just out to lunch to get them out of the house and have some friendly conversation.
Give Their Car a Check-Up
If a senior is still driving, caregivers will want to make sure that their elderly loved ones car is tuned up and safe to drive during the winter months. Winter travel is hazardous enough, but failing brakes or worn down tires can make driving ever more dangerous, so be sure to keep your loved ones car tuned up, full of fuel and other auto fluids to prevent any issues or accidents while they are getting from Point A to Point B.
Severe winter storms can cause power outages, so it is crucial to ensure that you plan ahead to have easy access to battery powered radio’s, candles, water bottles, non-perishable food (that can be eaten cold) , blankets, and flashlights/emergency candles. Be sure to layer your clothing (don’t forget a hat), and try to get up and move around to keep your body heat up.
You will want to be sure to check carbon monoxide detectors in the home as well to make sure they are in proper working order, especially if they have a fireplace, or use a gas heater. Check the batteries and replace them if needed, or consider replacing the detector if it has been several years.
Ask for Help
It is perfectly okay to reach out and ask for help if you need it. The winter months are hard, and if you are already providing care for someone, it can be even more difficult to tackle everything all on your own. Enlist the help of friends or family members to help shovel snow or remove ice, share rides to the store or appointments, if needed. There are a lot of things that you will have on your plate, and asking for even the smallest amount of help for a seemingly simply task can make a world of difference!
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