It’s no secret that during these last few bitterly cold winter months, ice, snow and cold temperatures have made life increasingly more challenging for everyone, not to mention seniors and their caregivers. Slippery sidewalks, mounting snow and cold weather can cause a wide range of injuries and illnesses, especially for those part of a vulnerable population.
Finding seniors care to assist those on a regular basis can help keep them safe during this cold season and against winter weather advisories. Check out Wickshire Senior Living’s 5 best tips below for preventing common cold weather dangers to older adults.
TIP 1: Dress For The Weather
Cold temperatures can lead to frostbite and hypothermia quickly in seniors. According to the CDC, more than half of hypothermia-related deaths were of people over the age of 65. Wickshire advises older adults to wear warm socks, a heavy coat, a warm hat, gloves and a scarf if heading outdoors. In very cold temperatures, they should cover all exposed skin and use a scarf to cover their mouth if they must venture out in the first place.
Extra Tip For Caregivers: If you confirm via thermometer that your older loved one’s temperature has dipped below 95 degrees, seek medical assistance immediately.
TIP 2: Watch Out For The Ice
Icy, snowy roads and sidewalks make it easy to slip and fall.
“Unfortunately, falls are a common occurrence for senior citizens, especially during the winter months,” says Dr. Stanley Wang, a physician at Stanford Hospital that specializes in senior care. “Often these falls cause major injuries such as hip and wrist fractures, head trauma and major lacerations.”
While younger people often recover relatively quickly from such injuries, older adults face complications, which Wang says are a leading cause of death from injury in men and women over the age of 65.
For that reason, Wickshire recommends older adults wear shoes with good traction and non-skid soles, and stay inside until the roads are clear. Replacing a worn cane tip can make walking easier, and older people are advised to take their shoes off as soon as they return indoors, because often snow and ice attach to the soles and, once melted, can lead to slippery conditions inside.
TIP 3: Prepare For The Power Outage
Winter storms can almost always lead to power outages, even in places such as Texas like we saw in February of 2021. Make sure your older loved one has easy access to flashlights and a battery-powered radio in case the power goes out. Stockpile warm blankets. Longer power outages can spoil the food in your refrigerator and freezer so keep a supply of non-perishable foods that can be eaten cold on hand. If the power goes out, older adults should wear several layers of clothing, including a hat. Check out this winter weather checklist from the CDC to make sure your loved one has everything they may need: https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/winter/beforestorm/preparehome.html. Alongside being prepared for a power outage, please be sure to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Using a fireplace, gas heater or lanterns can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. Wickshire asks to ensure your loved one’s safety by checking the batteries on their carbon monoxide detector and buying an updated one if you need to.
TIP 4: Help Seniors Fight Wintertime Depression
Wickshire has seen firsthand how difficult and dangerous it can be for seniors to get around, many older adults have less contact with others during cold months. This can breed feelings of loneliness and isolation.To help avoid these issues, family members can check in on seniors as often as possible or send their loved one to adult day care; a short, daily phone call can also make a big difference. Seniors can also arrange a check-in system with neighbors and friends, where each person looks in on one or two others daily.
TIP 5: Check Your Diet
Because people spend more time indoors and may eat a smaller variety of foods, nutritional deficits, especially vitamin D deficiency (which has been associated with health concerns like cognitive decline, depression and osteoporosis, among others) can be a problem. Wickshire recommends that older people consume foods that are fortified with Vitamin D, such as milk, grains and seafood options like tuna and salmon.
Wintertime certainly poses challenges for older adults, but with a bit of planning and awareness, they will stay healthy and experience the joys of springtime soon enough. Our most important tip to keep in mind during the colder months is to encourage seniors to ask for help. Whether they need to clear their property of snow and ice, or stock up on nourishing groceries or warm clothing items, they should feel free to ask a family member or neighbor or hire a professional or to reach out to their local Wickshire community. We’re here to help, always.
For more information on Wickshire Senior Living or to receive more tips on how to protect your loved one this winter season, please contact [email protected].