Here in Chester County, PA we’ve been blessed so far this year with a very mild autumn and early winter. In fact, many forecasts are for an overall mild winter. Nevertheless, we are bound to get at least a couple storms and some very chilly temperatures. It’s never too late to think about winter health and safety for our elderly loved ones. Here are 5 senior care tips to consider this winter:
1. Avoid Slipping on the Ice!
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) one out of 5 falls causes a serious injury (e.g. broken bones or head injury). Of course, slipping is even easier in the winter.
Wear shoes with good traction and non-skid soles. Stay inside until roads and sidewalks are clear. Replace worn cane tips to help prevent the cane from slipping. Finally, take off shoes upon arriving indoors so as not to make the inside of your home wet and slippery.
2. Dress for Warmth.
Layer, Layer, Layer when going out. It’s easier to take layers off than to recover from frostbite or hypothermia (when the body’s internal temperature goes too low). Cover your mouth and nose with a scarf to prevent frigid air from getting into the lungs.
And, of course, don’t let temperatures inside get too low, either. This is where our seniors spend most of their time. In their desire to save money, many seniors don’t set the heat to comfortable levels. If finances are a concern, consider the Low Income Heating Assistance Program (LIHEAP) for help.
3. Prevent Wintertime Depression.
Because of the difficulty of getting out in the winter, many seniors have increased isolation. This can lead to loneliness or even depression. Checking on a senior, even by phone, even for a few minutes a day can really help. You can also arrange similar check-ins with distant relatives, neighbors, or church or social friends. Before you know it, your senior will have multiple touches per day.
4. Prepare for Power Outages.
Make sure you have ready access to working flashlights and a battery powered radio. Have plenty of warm blankets on hand. Keep a supply of non-perishable foods (and a manual can opener) in the event of longer outages where refrigerated foods may spoil. And, see tip # 2, and layer, layer, layer! Check out the CDC’s Winter Weather Checklist.
5. Don’t Miss Those Important Doctor’s Appointments.
While many routine visits can be pushed until the warmer weather, many seniors are managing chronic diseases that require regular follow-up. With all the winter risks, it can be tempting to skip these appointments for a few months. But there is no need to.
Elderly care services like Seniors Helping Seniors® can help your loved one get to the doctor. Our caregivers will help them walk safely to the car, drive them to the appointment, then walk them safely into the appointment. Finally, your senior will be returned safely to the inside of their home. We can even stop by the pharmacy on the way home from the doctor, if your senior needs to pick up any prescriptions.
In summary, winter can be hazardous! But there are many ways to keep seniors safe. A little common sense can go a very long way. And before you know it, the daffodils will be sprouting… again!