As the song goes, ‘Baby, it’s cold outside.’ The temperature has dipped below zero and there is snow on the ground. Whether or not the calendar says it is officially winter, it certainly feels like it.
This is the time of the year when kids might be outside building a snowman, sledding or having snowball fights. They, and you, have your winter gear out and ready to use.
But what about your senior loved ones? Along with the cold winter months come additional hazards, especially for older adults. Are they prepared?
Here are a few senior safety tips to make sure your loved ones have a safe and healthy winter:
Accidents While Driving.
This time of the year the roads are icy and it gets dark very early. Anyone could have a hard time stopping. If an older adult’s reflexes are slower or if their eyesight isn’t what it used to be, it makes them even more likely to have an accident when the weather is bad. According to the CDC, 600 older adults are injured or killed in vehicular accidents every day.
What can you do?
Suggest that they only drive during the day or when the weather is clear.
Make sure their vehicle is tuned up, and their brakes and tires checked (and replaced if needed).
If they have a cell phone, even just for emergencies, make sure they keep it charged and with them in the car in case of an emergency.
If anyone steps on a patch of ice or snow the wrong way, you could fall. That is even more of an issue for older adults, especially if they are unsteady on their feet. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), more than one in three adults over 65 years old will fall each year, with more than 1.6 million older Americans having to go to the emergency room because of falls. Studies show that there is a high correlation between cold weather and falls in older adults.
What can you do?
If your loved one lives in a house, make sure their driveway and walkways are clear of snow and ice. If you or they can’t clear it, hire someone to do it for them.
Make sure they have proper footwear for winter – boots or shoes with non-skid soles to give them better traction on a slippery surface.
If they use canes or walkers, replace the rubber tip if it is worn out.
If they don’t have to go out in cold, icy weather, then they shouldn’t. They could be said for adults and kids too!
Snow shoveling injury.
If your loved one is capable and in a house, they might want to get out and shovel the snow or ice from their walkways and driveway. If you have shoveled wet snow, you know that it can become very heavy very quickly. This could cause a strained back, arms, or legs; a fall; or even a heart attack.
What can you do?
Shovel the snow for them. It’s a little extra exercise for you and it takes the burden away from your loved one.
If you can’t shovel for them and they, or you, can afford it, pay someone else to shovel the snow.
If they choose to shovel, make sure they have a good, ergo dynamic shovel or even a snow blower (if they are comfortable using it).
Ask them to take breaks when shoveling so they don’t get too winded.
Make sure they shovel correctly, bending from their knees, not from their back.
At Assisting Hands® Home Care, our goal is to provide our clients with the help they need to keep them safely in their own home for longer. We also provide a respite for a family caregiver who needs a break from their caregiving duties or who can’t manage all those duties by themselves any longer. We can be there for your loved one if they need to go out in the cold, icy weather so you don’t have to worry about them falling.
Whether you need someone to be with your loved one during the day, in the evening or overnight, our at-home care can accommodate your needs. You will have peace of mind knowing that they aren’t home alone when they need help with medication, fall prevention, personal care, eating or other needs.