When winter settles on the landscape, it brings with it ice, snow and freezing temperatures. Dealing with the elements can be bothersome for most, and downright dangerous for many others, especially those over 65. Shoveling your walk, shivering in your home, or, in the worst-case scenario, slipping on ice, can prevent you from enjoying the activities that make winter wonderful, such as sipping on a mug of hot cocoa, snuggling under a blanket for a movie, or even just watching the snow fall quietly outside. The following tips can help you safely navigate the winter season.
Prepare in advance for cold weather emergencies. Be sure to have warm blankets, candles, working flashlights and a battery-powered portable radio in case of a winter power outage. Keep an emergency supply of your medications, canned goods, bottled water and other necessities in your home. Have a cell phone fully charged for emergency use, and pre-arrange for someone to check on you in the event of a weather emergency, whether it be a family member, a friend or a neighbor.
Avoid winter accidents. Wear shoes or boots with rubber, non-skid soles, and remove them immediately upon entering your home to avoid falls. If you use a cane, walker, or wheelchair, inspect the rubber tips/wheels to ensure they are in proper condition. If you must drive in wintery conditions, always take a cell phone with you and stock your car with an emergency roadside kit which includes items such as a flashlight, first-aid kit, blankets and jumper cables.
Protect yourself against frostbite and hypothermia. If you must venture outside in cold weather, be sure to wear several layers of warm clothing. Seniors can be especially vulnerable to colder temperatures, and in the extreme cold, frostbite and hypothermia can occur in less than 10 minutes. If you notice any stinging, burning or numbness in your extremities (toes, fingers, nose and ears), you should go indoors and warm up immediately. You may even require medical attention.
Avoid over-exertion. Performing maintenance tasks in the cold can put a strain on your heart. If you must shovel your walk, dress appropriately, work slowly, and take plenty of breaks to drink water. This may be the perfect time to reach out to a younger family member or neighbor and enlist their help. Your neighborhood or city may also offer services for seniors who struggle with home maintenance tasks.
Fight wintertime depression. Because not everything that harms us is physical, seniors are encouraged to stay active during the winter season to combat the wintertime blues. Immerse yourself in a creative project or get some (physician approved) exercise. You could also skype with friends and family if a visit is not possible.
If you aren’t up to traveling, stay put. Although the holidays are a very popular time to make those long road trips to visit friends and family, winter is also one of the most dangerous times to travel. With hazardous road conditions, distracted drivers and inclement weather, it may be a better idea to forgo your visit until the change of season.
You can find more helpful winter safety tips in the CDC’s Extreme Cold Guide.
Do you have concerns about winter safety? Our senior care communities are located across Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan, and can provide a warm and welcoming environment for seniors who may need a little extra assistance in getting through the harsh winter months.
Also, if you are traveling this winter and are concerned about your loved one staying at home, our Respite services are offered to seniors who would like to stay with us for up to 30 consecutive days and nights. We provide medication assistance, an on-site beauty and barber salon, plenty of opportunities for socialization, and so much more! Leave their care to us and enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing that your loved one is safe and warm this winter.
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