While winter marks the swing of festivities, holidays, and jolly Christmas, the onset of gloomy and chilly weather can be challenging for the elderly. Besides the increased risk of fall-related injuries, weakened immunity also makes the elderly more vulnerable to harsh weather conditions. To keep your loved ones safe, warm, and healthy throughout the season, here are some winter safety tips.
Layer Up Warmly
The elderly can lose body heat rapidly due to a thinner fat layer under the skin and lowered metabolism, making them at risk of hypothermia. Adopt loose layer dressing to stay warm while ensuring proper blood circulation. Cover their neck with a warm scarf and protect their head and ears with a good hat. Wear gloves to prevent frostbites, and also a pair of warm socks and appropriate winter shoes. If the weather gets extremely cold, don’t forget to shield their mouth with a scarf to protect their lungs.
Be Careful On Ice
Falls are the leading injury cause in older adults and winter weather conditions will only aggravate the concern. Oftentimes, fall-related injuries such as head trauma, wrist, and hip fractures can be serious or even fatal for the elderly. Furthermore, even in a less life-threatening situation, the recovery is much tougher and longer for older adults. To prevent falling, avoid icy roads or sidewalks until they are completed salted or shoveled. If your loved ones are going out, make sure they wear non-skid soles shoes with good traction. Take off shoes as soon as they are indoors as snow attached to the soles can lead to slipperiness.
Seek Help for Snow Clearing
Snow shoveling can be physically demanding and potentially injury-inducing. The repeated twisting and lifting while clearing the snow off the driveway and sidewalk can severely strain our bodies. Being outdoors under a low temperature for a prolonged period can also stiffen up muscles. All it takes is one bad muscle pull and the neck, shoulders or back will seize up. Instead of exposing themselves to the risks of this loathsome winter job, remind your loved ones to seek help from professionals or neighbors.
Stock Up Medications
If your loved ones have underlying medical conditions such as thyroid problems and diabetes, it may be hard for them to stay warm. Some other medications may also affect body heat. It is important to discuss with the doctor about your loved ones’ medications and how they may affect them in winter. If a winter storm or heavy snow is in the forecast, make sure your loved ones have sufficient medications for at least a week.
Use Indoor Heating Source Safely
Although indoor heating sources such as space heaters and fireplaces can offer much-needed warmth, it is important to take precautions so that they don’t turn into hazards. If your loved ones have fireplaces, make sure that they have a large screen to prevent sparks from landing on the carpet or floor. For space heaters, check that the power cords are in good condition. Lastly, ensure that there are working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors installed in your loved ones’ homes.
It can be challenging for the elderly to survive winter if they are living on their own. Especially with demanding careers, it is not always easy to take care of your loved ones round the clock. That is why many families are realizing the benefits of assisted living as the best living option for their loved ones.