Cold Weather Means Extra Hazards for Seniors
Winter weather is a lot of fun when you’re a kid. Playing in the snow, maybe even getting a day off from school, all make cold temperatures exciting. But as we age, weather starts to pose new challenges can even threaten our health.
If you are the family caregiver of a senior, it’s important to be prepared and have a strategy in place for cold weather. Emergencies will arise, and getting to healthcare appointments can be more challenging, so taking time to make a plan can ensure an easier winter season.
There are many winter threats to seniors and not all are weather-related. Slips and falls increase during this time due to icy, slippery surfaces. Seniors are more at risk of hypothermia, too. But also, cold and flu season makes going into public places risky or even fatal if the senior’s immune system is not strong.
So, advance planning is key to getting yourself and your loved ones through the winter months safely. Here are four tips to help you through.
1) Get an HVAC Inspection.
As we age, our bodies’ response to temperature changes diminishes. That’s why it is vital to keep your senior loved one’s home warm in the winter. Make sure their furnace or HVAC system is in good working order, and visit frequently to ensure that the home is a comfortable temperature. It can be tempting to add space heaters to increase heat, but they present a trip hazard and may cause fires.
2) Keep Walkways Clear.
Take steps to make sure your senior loved one’s walkways are clear of trip hazards and ice. According to the National Council on Aging, falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for older Americans, and any fall can impact quality of life for a senior.
3) Dress for the Weather.
Make sure you and your senior are dressed warmly. It’s important to take care of yourself during the winter, too. During the cold months, it’s advisable to have someone check in on your senior loved one at least every few hours.
4) Get a Flu Shot.
The flu can be dangerous even for young, healthy people. But it is far too often fatal for our elders. Get the flu shot as soon as you are able, and get one for your senior loved one, too. If there is a widespread flu outbreak in your area, it might be best to avoid taking your senior into public places until the outbreak passes.
5) Stock up on Food and Medicine.
You never know when an extreme weather event might hit, making it difficult to get to grocery stores and pharmacies. Take time now to stock up on food, household supplies, personal hygiene items and medicine for your senior loved one.
Winter carries many hazards, but it can also be a time of year full of fellowship and family time. Be sure that you and your senior loved one get much-needed social time this winter, too. Here’s to a safe winter and a bright, healthy spring for your family.