Preparing for Winter for Seniors

Winter is approaching fast! This popular season brings family, friends, and loved ones together for the holidays. Great food, fun, and memories to create! This upcoming season brings so many reasons to celebrate. Although it will look beautifully decorated outside with holiday lights and a gorgeous blanket of white snow, along with the beauty comes dangerous snow falls, blizzards, ice, sleet, freezing temperatures, and many other dangers, especially for the elderly.

These weather conditions can cause diseases, sicknesses, hypothermia, frostbite, and most commonly, slips and falls on ice. However, not only does the winter bring physical threats for senior’s health, but also seasonal emotional risks as well.

Dress for Warmth.

Cold temperatures can lead to frostbite and hypothermia — a condition where the body temperature dips too low. According to the CDC, more than half of hypothermia-related deaths were of people over the age of 65.

So, don’t let indoor temperatures go too low and dress in layers.

Going outside? Wear warm socks, a heavy coat, a warm hat, gloves and a scarf. In very cold temperatures, cover all exposed skin. Use a scarf to cover your mouth and protect your lungs.

Your body temperature should never dip below 95 degrees — if it does get medical assistance immediately!

How to Avoid Slipping on the Ice:

Icy, snowy roads and sidewalks make it easy to slip and fall. “Unfortunately, falls are a common occurrence for senior citizens, especially during the winter months. Often these falls cause major injuries such as hip and wrist fractures, head trauma and major lacerations.

While younger people often recover relatively quickly from such injuries, older adults face complications, which are a leading cause of death from injury in men and women over the age of 65.

Make sure to wear shoes with good traction and non-skid soles, and stay inside until the roads are clear. Replace a worn cane tip to making walking easier. Take off shoes as soon as you return indoors because often snow and ice attach to the soles and, once melted, can lead to slippery conditions inside.

Fight Winter Time Depression

Because it can be difficult and dangerous to get around, many seniors have less contact with others during cold months. This can breed feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Try to Stay Active:

During the winter, most aging adults confine themselves to the comfort of their homes. Being sedentary is a critical risk to the elderly’s heart. However, it can be difficult to find ways to stay active for them. After really knowing what your loved one’s capabilities are, try to find some ways they can keep up their physical activity during the winter. Here are some suggestions for seniors to stay active:

  • Purchase exercise equipment to use in their home such as dumbbells, ankle weights, and athletic bands.
  • You can also assist your client walking around their house a few times. Try to set a goal and have them walk around the house every few hours. Walking will also help with body warmth as well.

Senior Care and Seasonal Vaccines.

Cold and flu season begins in the fall , so getting a seasonal flu vaccine can help prevent unwanted illnesses. Washing your hands thoroughly with hot, soapy water for at least 30 seconds prevents the spread of bacteria and germs. Be sure to lots of sleep to strengthen your immune system to help your body naturally fight intruders.

Residential Maintenance.

For the elderly that are living by themselves may want to have a professional to check their heating systems. Even for those who reside in assisted living communities, now is an excellent time to grab a space heater or even two for those who feel cold. Never leave them unsupervised. Place at least 3 ft. between the heater and walls or curtains.

 

Emergency Preparedness ChecklistBe Prepared For an Emergency

Transitioning weather can cause storms leading to power outages, loss of heat, water and phone services. Inclement weather means a difficult time venturing out for essential supplies. Prepare for emergency situations:

  • Store lots of non-perishables and clean water.
  • Keep candles, fresh batteries, flashlights, extra blankets, Sterno fuel and a battery-operated radio available.
  • Don’t wait on a crisis to establish a system of communication. Everyone, not just the elderly, living alone ought to create a “buddy system.”

Keeping appropriate heat levels inside the home is an integral part of elderly care. It is unfortunate that, many people are not able to afford for heating. Senior care and assistance programs provide a safe and clean environment for seniors where they have access to care and necessities to experience a high quality of life.