When it comes to caring for our aging loved ones, being proactive regarding their comfort and safety during colder months is essential. Cold weather can be exceptionally dangerous for seniors. While we would love to savor the crisp fall weather, it's important to look forward to colder temperatures and winter hazards now and prepare accordingly. Here are some tips for how to start preparing seniors for cold weather.
Decrease the Risk of Falling
Falls are one of the leading causes of senior hospitalizations. Winter months tend to bring more clutter indoors and slippery streets and walkways outdoors. Things like heavy shoes, mittens, and hats in the entryway or shovels blocking the doorway can increase the risk of an indoor fall. Create a designated place out of the way for storing shoes and other winter gear. Once the weather starts changing, always make sure outdoor walkways are salted and shoveled.
Update their Winter Wardrobe
In winter you have to expect the unexpected, especially if you live in colder climates. Storms can come up and temperatures can drop quickly, and seniors are particularly vulnerable to body-heat loss and hypothermia. Even if your senior loved one stays at home, power outages and loss of heat are always a possibility. Now’s the time to go through the winter wardrobe of your senior, replacing garments that are worn or have holes and making sure everything still fits comfortably. Make sure warm blankets, towels, and warm clothes are easily accessible.
Prepare their Home & Car for Emergencies
Along with wardrobes, your senior loved one’s home and car should be prepared for emergencies. Blankets can be kept in the car along with flares and a first aid kit. At home, stock up on non-perishable items and extra medications in case the weather is too dangerous to drive. Test out the lights, space heaters, furnaces, phones, and other essential items that require power to make sure they are in good working order before winter arrives. If power outages are a concern, backups for warmth and communications will be necessary. A generator that goes on automatically is the best option, but if that’s not possible, at least ensure they have access to flashlights, batteries, and a battery-powered radio and heat source.
Have an Emergency Plan
In the face of winter's unpredictability, having a well-thought-out emergency plan is paramount. Sit down with your senior loved ones and discuss a plan for various scenarios, such as severe weather conditions, power outages, or health emergencies. Having a clear plan and adequate supplies can provide peace of mind during challenging times and help seniors feel more secure in the face of winter's uncertainties.
Always Maintain Contact
Senior loved ones are more susceptible to experiencing loneliness and social isolation in winter, which can lead to serious health issues. Regular check-ins will benefit your loved one’s mental health and encourage them to express any concerns they may have. Whether it is by phone, video, or in person, it is a small gesture that goes a long way.
While aging brings certain challenges, it shouldn't prevent our senior loved ones from living a joyous and comfortable life. Helping prepare your senior loved one for unexpected challenges can go a long way to providing peace of mind. Get more tips on senior health and wellness on the Careage blog.