Late fall and winter can be tough seasons for our senior loved ones. They face different risks during colder months of the year than their younger counterparts. From poor balance that may lead to a fall on an icy sidewalk to higher incidences of seasonal depression, adult children and family caregivers need to take extra precautions to help the older adults in their life stay safe.
Here are 8 winter safety tips you can use to protect your senior loved one when the cold winds blow:
- Icy Walkways: Falls are the leading cause of debilitating injuries in older adults. Winter can be an especially dangerous time. This is why it is so important to have a plan in place for snow and ice removal. Whether it is a local landscape company or a friendly neighbor, make sure you have arrangements made to keep your loved one’s sidewalks, stairways and drive clear.
- Extra Staples on Hand: Cold weather can cause chronic health conditions such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) to flare up. Staying indoors on frigid days might be necessary. Make sure your loved one’s pantry is well stocked so they aren’t forced to go outside.
- Winter Gear: Seniors make up more than half of the hypothermia-related deaths each year. Be sure your senior family member has appropriate winter gear that is in good condition. This should include sturdy winter boots with non-skid soles, a warm coat, a hat, scarf and gloves. If your loved one uses an assistive device for support with walking, make sure it has non-skid tips to prevent sliding.
- Medication Plan: Storms can blow up unexpectedly making it tough for older adults to get out and refill prescriptions. Help your loved one create a plan to have ample medications —including over-the-counter and prescription medicines —- on hand for emergencies.
- Flu Shot: If they haven’t done so already, be sure your senior loved one gets a flu shot. This age group is at high risk for complications from the flu. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that seniors account for 80-90% of seasonal flu-related deaths and 50-70% of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations. The flu shot remains the best way to prevent getting bitten by the bug.
- Stay Connected: We now know that isolation is a serious health concern for seniors. It puts them at higher risk for problems ranging from depression to obesity. While traveling in the winter months might be tougher, you can use social media channels like Facebook and video chat services such as Skype to help your senior loved one stay connected. And a daily phone call helps, too!
- Vitamin D: Another challenge for older adults in colder climates is lack of exposure to sunlight during winter months. It can contribute to a vitamin D deficiency. Encourage your aging parent to talk with their primary care physician to see if they need to take a supplement.
- Winter Storms: Storms can create real challenges for all of us. With advice for dealing with power outages and frozen pipes, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) created Winter Storms and Extreme Cold to help you prepare.
Respite Stays During Winter Months
Unlike summer months, where hurricane safety can be a top priority, Elmcroft has you covered during the winter months. If you are concerned about a loved one who lives alone, consider a respite stay during the worst of the cold weather. Call the Elmcroft Senior Living community nearest you to learn more!