Maintaining health and safety is a major concern for seniors throughout the year, but it becomes especially important during the winter, when inclement weather rears its ugly head. When you mix snow, ice, cold weather and seniors, it could be a recipe for disaster if you’re not properly prepared.
What can you do to stay safe and remain healthy when the wind is howling outside, the roads and walkways are covered in ice, and temperatures drop below zero? Here are a few health and safety tips to help seniors during the long winter months.
Warm weather gear is essential when the temperatures dip into the teens and even below zero. If seniors need to get outside to run errands or get some fresh air, it’s important to make sure that apparel is appropriate to protect against extreme temperatures in order to avoid hypothermia. It’s also best to keep indoor temperatures in an acceptable range, even for seniors that like to bundle up.
In addition to warm sweaters, coats, socks, and even long underwear, seniors need to make sure to use proper footwear. Shoes or boots with grippy, non-skid soles are wise, although seniors could also add gear like Yaktrax for added traction on ice.
When seniors are stuck indoors all winter long, it’s easy to fall into depression. For this reason, it’s a good idea to set up a system of daily check-ins by different family members and friends to ensure that seniors get plenty of personal interaction with loved ones.
For seniors that don’t have this support network in place, working with an organization like Seniors Helping Seniors that can offer care and companionship could help. Daily check-ins are also a great way to ensure that seniors can get the help they need in case of an accident that leaves them unable to call for help.
When the bounty of fresh produce and sunshine that characterize the summer months fade into memory, it’s all too easy for seniors to suffer deficiencies. A balanced diet that includes a variety of nutrients is important, and supplements can help, as well. During this time, it’s a good idea to bump up vitamin D consumption. We normally get a healthy dose of vitamin D from sunshine, but during the winter, we need a little help.
Preparation for winter means making sure seniors are ready for cold temperatures and potential snafus like power outages. Seasonal inspections are a must, and this starts with an annual HVAC inspection. It’s important for professionals to clean and inspect the HVAC system to ensure that heating equipment (furnace, boiler, etc.) is in ship shape and ready to perform. Filters should be replaced as necessary to keep the air free of allergens and pollutants.
This is also a great time to check smoke detectors, replace fire extinguishers (if necessary), and install carbon monoxide detectors. The house should also be stocked with warm blankets, flashlights, and other emergency items in case of a power outage. Don’t forget to have cars serviced, as well, and have snow tires put on if needed. This will give seniors the best chance to maintain health and safety during the winter.