The winter time can be more difficult to get around and stay warm for everyone, seniors especially. The holidays are usually a happy time of year but can also bring about additional risks. Follow our helpful tips and your loved one won’t be forced to hibernate during the winter and will remain safe during the holidays.
1. Dress for the Weather
Seniors have lower metabolic rates and poor circulation making them especially susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia. The CDC has reported 52% of all hypothermia-related deaths are in people over age 65. Make sure your loved one is dressed in layers when going outside wearing a heavy coat, thick socks, a warm hat, gloves and a scarf. When temperatures get very cold be sure all of their skin is covered and use a scarf to help cover the mouth and protect their lungs from the air.
Seek medical attention immediately if your loved ones body temperature drops below 95 degrees.
2. Watch for Ice
Complications from falls are a leading cause of death from injury in adults over the age of 65. Icy and snowy road and sidewalks make it easy to slip and fall down which can cause major injuries like head trauma, hip or wrist fractures and major lacerations.
Have your loved one in shoes with good traction and non-skid soles when going out. If they walk with a cane, replace heavily worn cane tips. Also be sure shoes are taken off immediately on coming inside so that floors don’t get wet and slippery. Always remember, if the weather outside is too bad, have your loved one stay inside.
3. Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Methods of heat like fireplaces, lanterns and gas heaters can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. Test to make sure your loved ones carbon monoxide detector is in working order and with good batteries.
4. Be Aware of Wintertime Depression
During the cold months it can be difficult for your loved one to get around which can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness. Help your loved on avoid these feelings by checking in on them often, even if it is just a phone call.
5. Be Prepared for Power Outages
Winter storms can bring on power outages. Setup your loved ones home so that it is equipped with everything they need to survive several days without power. Some important things to keep around include: flashlights, battery-powered radio, warm blankets, non-perishable foods, bottled water and cold weather clothing. If you are unable to check in on your loved one in the days following a storm, ask a neighbor or friend to stop by and check on them.
6. Holiday Fire Hazards
The holidays mean lots of pretty lights and decorations, but with that comes an increased risk of fires. A lot of holiday decorations involve combustible materials like tissue paper and cottons. Keep these materials away from fireplaces and candles to avoid igniting.
When it comes to Christmas trees, an artificial tree which is labeled fire resistant is the safest choice. If you are using a real tree, make sure to keep it watered and that needles don’t dry out. Dying trees should be removed immediately.
Your tree lights should be labeled as indoor lights and preferably are LEDs as they burn cooler. Also be sure that electrical cords are out of walking paths to avoid your loved one tripping and falling.
In case a fire does happen be prepared: test smoke detectors, have at least one fire extinguisher and have an emergency fire plan in place.
Winter is a challenging time of year for seniors, but with a little bit of planning and awareness you can help them stay happy and healthy until the weather warms up.