Winter Safety for Seniors
During the winter months, ice, snow and cold temperatures can make life challenging for anyone. Slippery sidewalks and cold weather can cause a wide range of injuries and illnesses — especially for seniors.
Finding elderly care to assist your senior on a regular basis can help keep them safe during any season. Check out the tips below that are specific to winter for preventing common colds and avoiding other weather dangers that the elderly population faces.
1. Avoid Slipping on 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,” says Dr. Stanley Wang, a physician at Stanford Hospital in Palo Alto, Calif. 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 Dr. Wang says 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 make 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
2. Dress for Warmth: Cold temperatures can lead to frostbite and hypothermia — a condition where the body temperature dips too low. More than half of hypothermia-related deaths were 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.
3. Fight Wintertime Depression: Because it can be difficult and dangerous to get around, many seniors develop feelings of loneliness and isolation. To help avoid these issues, family members can check in on seniors as often as possible or send their loved one to adult day care; a short, daily phone call can also make a big difference. Seniors can also arrange a check-in system with neighbors and friends, where each person looks in on one or two others daily.
4. Check the Car: Driving during the winter can be especially dangerous for older people, who may not drive very often or whose reflexes may not be as quick as they once were. Get your car serviced before wintertime hits — or ask a family member to bring it to a garage for you. Checking things like the oil, tires, battery and wipers can make a big difference on winter roads. If driving is necessary during the winter, review safe and reliable senior transportation options.
5. Prepare for Power Outages: Make sure you have easy access to flashlights and a battery-powered radio in case the power goes out. Stockpile warm blankets. Keep a supply of non-perishable foods that can be eaten cold on hand. If the power goes out, wear several layers of clothing, including a hat. Move around a lot to raise your body temperature.
6. Eat a Varied Diet: Because people are indoors more and may eat a smaller variety of foods they can suffer from nutritional deficits — especially Vitamin D. Consume foods that are fortified with Vitamin D, such as milk, grains and seafood options like tuna and salmon.
7. Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning: Using a fireplace, gas heater or lanterns can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. Ensure your safety by checking the batteries on your carbon monoxide detector and buy an updated one if you need to.
The most important tip to keep in mind during the colder months is to ask for help. If you need to clear your property of snow and ice, don’t hesitate to ask a family member or neighbor, or hire a professional. Arrange rides to the grocery store and doctor’s appointments-many communities have shuttle services specifically for seniors. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help.
Wintertime certainly poses challenges for seniors, but with a bit of planning and awareness, you will stay healthy and experience the joys of springtime soon enough.
Let Holli Care, LLC help with all your winter needs.