Between the snow, ice and cold temperatures, winter months can be challenging, especially for seniors. Sidewalks that are covered with ice can be a serious issue, especially if someone slips and falls. Below freezing temperatures can cause hypothermia or issue inside the home that may not be caught.
Here are some helpful tips for preventing common winter dangers that the elderly population faces.
1. Avoid Slipping on Ice
With icy roads and sidewalks, it makes it easier for someone to slip and fall. Falling during winter months are especially common with the elderly. These falls could cause injuries such as hip and wrist fractures – or even head trauma.
A good preventive from slipping on ice, is to make sure to wear shoes with good traction and non-skid sole. Also, stay inside if necessary until roads and sidewalks are clear. If you do go outside, make sure you take off your shoes or boots when returning indoors. The melted snow and ice could also lead to slippery conditions inside.
2. Dress Warm
Cold temperatures can lead to frostbite and hypothermia. According to the CDC, more than half of hypothermia-related deaths were from people who were over the age of 65. If going outside in chilly conditions, make sure to wear layers of clothing. Wear warm socks, a hat gloves and scarf, and be sure to cover any exposed skin in extreme temperatures.
3. Winter Depression
Because getting around for seniors in the winter can be tough, sometimes they can tend to spend a lot of time alone. This can bring on feelings of loneliness and isolation.
To help avoid this, family members are encouraged to check in on seniors as often as possible; even if it’s a short, daily phone call.
4. Check the Car
During the winter months, driving can be especially dangerous for seniors who may not have as quick reflexes anymore. Make sure the car gets serviced when wintertime hits. Check things such as the oil, tires, brakes and wipers, which can all make a big difference on winter roads. It’s also important to make sure your AAA membership is up to date in case of emergencies.
5. Prepare for Power Outages
Winter storms can lead to power outages. Make sure that seniors have easy access to flashlights and battery-powered radios in case the power goes out. Put together a pile of warm blankets and non-perishable food items that can still be eaten in the cold.
If the power goes out, make sure to dress in war layers including a hat. Walk around if able to keep your body temperature up.
6. Eat a Varied Diet
With less time spent outdoors, it’s important to foods that are fortified with Vitamin D, such as milk, grains and seafood options like salmon.
7. Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Using a gas lantern, fireplace or gas heater could lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. It’s important to ensure that the batteries on your carbon monoxide detector is working and up to date.
Wintertime could pose some challenges to seniors, but with some planning and awareness, we can enjoy the winter months until Spring.
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