9 Ways to Keep Seniors Safe in the Winter

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Winter presents some difficult challenges for seniors with mobility and health issues. Use these 9 winter safety tips for seniors to help prepare your loved one and his or her home to maximize their comfort, safety and well-being before the first cold snap. And if you have any questions or concerns about your loved one’s health and safety over the winter, or any other time of the year, please contact At Home Personal Care for assistance at (703) 330-2323.

1. Eliminate slipping and falling risks

Falls are a major cause of serious injury and even death among adults over the age of 65. Make sure that walkways and driveways around your loved one’s home are sufficiently cleared of snow and ice to reduce this risk.

Also make sure they have shoes with good traction and that their cane, walker or other mobility device is outfitted for better traction. Also reduce falling hazards indoors by having a place for them and visitors to store wet, icy shoes so that slippery puddles don’t form in the entryway of their home. It’s always a good idea to go around the home and remove any other trip hazards as well: cords, cables, furniture arrangements, etc. should be stowed to reduce fall risks everywhere.

2. Stock emergency supplies

Before the storm hits, make sure your loved one has an easily-accessible emergency kit outfitted with a three-day supply of food, water, batteries, flashlights, radio, blankets and at least a 7-day supply of any prescription medications they need. Make sure their caregivers also know where the emergency kit is located.

3. Keep them warm

Cold temperatures can pose health risks to many seniors, particularly people with cardiac and diabetic complications. Keep the thermostat set to at least 68 degrees and make sure the pipes are insulated sufficiently or that taps are left dripping if the temperatures are forecast to dip into the single digits or lower. Double check that the home is correctly insulated and check that the windows are properly caulked to keep out drafts. Also make sure they have sufficient winter weather clothing: coats, gloves, boots, scarves, sweaters, warm socks and pants, etc., and make sure they have plenty of blankets available in different areas of the house.

4. Stay active and social

Emotional and mental health has a huge impact on physical health. Just like every other human being, it is important to remember that your senior loved ones want to be included, need a social life and need to engage in physical activities that are safe and beneficial to them. This is especially true throughout the winter, which can be a particularly difficult, depressing and isolating time for seniors. Include them in family gatherings, call regularly, help them attend social, cultural and religious functions and visit with friends. Talk with their healthcare provider about exercises that would be safe and healthy for them. 

5. Service the car

Winter driving is tricky for anybody, but particularly for seniors. Make sure their car has been winterized, serviced and is stocked with an emergency safety kit. Also ensure that their insurance is current and that driving glasses are updated. If your loved one no longer drives, make sure that he or she has sufficient and safe transportation alternatives.

6. Eliminate carbon monoxide poisoning and fire hazards

Double check batteries in the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and check the safety and maintenance situation of any gas heaters or appliances to reduce risks. If a fireplace is involved, make sure a chimneysweep visits to do any required cleaning and maintenance and make sure any other electrical fire hazards are checked by an electrician.

7. Watch what they eat

Nutrition is extra important during the winter when threats to the immune system are higher. Double check that your loved one is getting plenty of fruits, vegetables, healthy proteins and any other dietary needs as recommended by the doctor.

8. Establish an emergency plan

Whether it’s a blizzard, an ice storm, a power outage or any other type of emergency, make sure to work with your loved one and his or her caregivers on an emergency plan to implement in case things get scary. Make sure everyone knows the numbers to call, where to go, where the emergency kits are located, etc.

9. Give them an easy-to-use mobile device

Consider giving your senior loved one an easy-to-use smartphone or tablet this season. Mobile devices can be configured for accessibility functions that make them easier to use for those with vision and hearing problems and can actually be loaded with apps that help remind them of important appointments, when to take medications, etc. These are a great tool to help seniors stay connected to family with video chat apps or enable them to read or listen to books, watch TV shows and movies, and so much more.

To find out more about how you can keep your senior loved one safe this coming winter, contact At Home Personal Care for individualized suggestions: (703) 330-2323.

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