During the long and dark Winter months, the weather can become challenging for everyone. Ice, snow and cold temperatures, alongside slippery sidewalks and cold weather, can cause a wide range of injuries and illnesses, especially for seniors. If you have an elderly relative you are concerned about; there is plenty of great advice as to how to keep them safe and prevent ordinary winter catastrophes.
Dress For Success
Cold temperatures can lead to frostbite and hypothermia, a condition where the body temperature drops too low. More than half of hypothermia-related deaths were of people over the age of 65. The elderly are particularly susceptible to becoming dangerously chilled because they have less fat, slower circulation and a more sluggish metabolism. A senior can even become hypothermic while indoors so ensure that an older person is warmly dressed when inside the house as well as outside. If they are going outside, always advise dressing in layers. Wear warm socks, a heavy coat, a warm hat, gloves and a scarf. The scarf can be used to cover their mouth and protect
Some of these energy-saving tips may seem obvious, but they can make a big difference when it comes to reducing fuel bills. By setting the heating to the right temperature, you can ensure a warm home and lower bills. The main living room should be around
21°C (70°F), the bedroom should be 18°C (65°F) and the rest of the house at least 16°C (61°F). so the thermostat should never be set below 65 degrees for a person who is 75 or older. Set the heating to come on just before they get up and switch off after they have
gone to bed. If it’s frigid, set the heating to come on earlier and turn off later rather than turning the thermostat up. If you can’t heat all the rooms, heat the living room throughout the day and the bedroom just before you go to bed. Remember to close curtains and shut doors to keep heat in the places you use most.
Because older people spend more time indoors and may eat a smaller variety of foods, nutritional deficits, especially Vitamin D , can be a problem. Eating foods fortified with Vitamin D, such as milk, grains and seafood options like tuna and salmon are a great choice.
Water Way To Go
Seniors are especially prone to becoming dehydrated merely because they eat and drink less than younger people. Thus they consume less water. In general, people also feel less thirsty during the winter and so are more prone to not drinking as much as they should. Make sure they are drinking consistently.
Slips and Trips
Unfortunately, falls are a common occurrence for senior citizens, especially during the winter months. Icy, snowy roads and sidewalks make it easy to slip and fall. Often such trips and slips can cause significant injuries such as hip and wrist fractures, head
trauma and severe lacerations. While younger people often recover relatively quickly from such injuries, older adults face complications which are a leading cause of death from injury in men and women over the age of 65.
So if venturing outside, as well as keeping warm, make sure they wear shoes with excellent traction and non-skid soles, preferably though, stay inside until the roads are
clear. Once in, remove shoes as soon as they come indoors as often snow and ice attach to the soles of shoes which, once melted, can lead to slippery conditions inside.
To help avoid injury when walking on ice and snow, remember these simple tips:
● Walk slowly and deliberately and wear boots or other slip-resistant footwear.
● Be prepared for black-ice formation after melting occurs.
● Exercise caution when getting in and out of vehicles.
● Watch for slippery floors when entering buildings.
● Avoid carrying items. Keep hands empty, so arms are free to move for stabilization. Use backpacks where possible.
In the event of an elderly relative sustaining an injury at the hands of someone else’s carelessness, it may be worth investigating further. There are many specialists offering advice in such a circumstance such as Jonathan C. Reiter , who can look into compensation to cover medical expenses incurred.
Because it can be difficult and dangerous to get around, many of our elderly have less contact with others during cold months. To help avoid loneliness and isolation, family members should check in as often as possible; even a short, daily phone call can make a
big difference. As well as neighbors and friends, there are specific home care services for seniors, offering peace of mind should you not be able to look in on them yourselves.
Seasonal affective disorder or SAD can occur not only in the elderly but can severely impact their emotional health. Some signs to watch for with SAD include a loss of energy, an increased appetite and an enhanced feeling of lethargy and tiredness. If symptoms are present, encourage them to talk to their doctor about treatment options.
Master The Disaster
Winter storms can be fierce enough to knock down power lines and forcibly confine the elderly to their homes. It is essential to make sure an older person is equipped with a disaster kit to help them get through these times. Each package should include enough
food and water for several days (at least 3 gallons of water per person per day), a few days worth of medication, a flashlight, a weather radio, extra batteries, and first-aid essentials.
Driving during the winter can be hazardous for anyone, but is especially dangerous for older people, who may not drive as often anymore or whose reflexes may not be as sharp as they once were. Checking the oil, tires, battery and wipers for them, or reminding them to do so, can make a big difference on winter roads.
The most important tip to keep in mind during the colder months is to ensure your loved ones know they can ask for help. If they need to clear property of snow and ice, they must feel comfortable to ask a family member or neighbor. Perhaps see if a neighbor can assist with reciprocal rides to the grocery store and doctor’s appointments. Many communities have shuttle services specifically for seniors.
Wintertime poses challenges for seniors, but with a little planning and awareness, you can help your loved ones stay healthy and experience the joys of spring soon enough