When winter sets in, the majority of us settle for the great indoors. Staying put is rarely a convenience. Most people are motivated to head out into the blistery freeze to grocery shop, visit the post office or tend to various necessary errands. Senior citizens are no less inclined. When winter descends its chilling temperatures our way, senior citizens must take extra precautions to remain healthy and safe during these challenging, frosty months.
Stay Safe Outdoors
Dress In Layers
When necessity causes seniors to venture out into the cold, the number one rule for being outside in winter is dressing appropriately for the conditions. Clothing layers, at least four (as residents of the icy eastern Siberia recommend), are optimum when heading outdoors. Make sure to choose four layers of very thick pieces of clothing. These four layers offer maximum protection from subfreezing temperatures up to four degrees below zero.
Wear a hat to protect your head and prevent valuable body heat from escaping. Waterproof boots keep your feet warm and dry. Windproof outerwear is ideal in winter to shield against biting winds. Thick gloves protect your fingers and hands from frostbite when temperatures dip. If driving, keep additional winter clothing items in the car in the event of an emergency.
The wintry mess of ice can be dangerous for seniors, especially those who utilize canes and walkers for greater mobility. Plan to add non-stick pads to the undersides of your footwear to decrease the possibility of slips on the ice. Also add new tread to walkers or canes to lessen the chances of a fall. Family, caregivers and friends can help seniors access these winter necessities.
Prepare for Winter Driving
The winter months may lead to less driving. However, when seniors choose to head out in the cold, ensure that the vehicle is and has been properly maintained. Fill up on gas, to at least above half full to prevent condensation from freezing the fuel lines, which can occur in near-empty tanks.
Especially in winter, seniors who drive should keep an emergency kit in their car. Items in the emergency kit should include food and water, blankets and a flashlight.
Stay Well Indoors
Heat Your Home
The indoors are only comfy when the heat functions. To ensure your home is heated throughout the winter, service the gas heaters or furnace well before winter. Change the furnace filters prior to winter’s arrival.
Experts suggest utilizing newer space heaters, as opposed to older ones that may be unsafe to use. Space heaters should be kept away from all flammable materials, like blankets, curtains and clothing; never leave a space heater unattended due to a risk of fire.
Install a generator in your home if it doesn’t have one. A generator is a life-saving device in the event of a storm wiping out power, including appliances and electricity. If your home includes a generator, have it serviced before winter hits.
Using the fireplace or gas heater can lead to dangerous and deadly levels of carbon monoxide inside your home. Check the carbon monoxide detector in your home and replace the batteries before the cold season.
Hydrate and Eat Nutritiously
The winter season also tends to be a dry season. Seniors may experience less thirst when the air is dry. Adequate hydration is still absolutely necessary. Be sure to drink eight glasses of water daily to prevent winter dehydration.
Seniors also benefit from eating well, including foods rich in vitamin D, which becomes deficient during the gloomy winter season. Foods with ample doses of vitamin D include seafood, grains and fortified milk.
If possible, seniors should fill regular prescriptions before winter’s coldest temperatures hit. Preparing early eliminates the need to drive to the pharmacy in winter conditions. Also keep medical supplies up to date. Experts suggest purchasing necessary medical products online, instead of driving in inclement weather to pick up the supplies.
Prepare an Emergency Kit
Keep an emergency kit handy. Just as you would in a car, keep an emergency kit up to date in your home during the winter months. Include water, batteries, nonperishable food, a battery-powered radio, extra blankets and a flashlight.
Sometimes, the winter calls for the assistance of others. In instances when seniors need a helping hand, senior home care service providers are up to the task. Local home care service professionals, such as Assisting Hands Home Care, retain a staff of qualified caregivers who are skilled in meeting the needs of elderly individuals in their care. Compassionate home aides can be sent to your home to offer help with non-medical home health care, personal emergency response systems, fall prevention and personal assistance.
Assisting Hands Home Care is a licensed senior care center faithfully serving the Broward County community. If you need short-term care, such as assistance with transportation or simply pleasant companionship, our team is prepared to send a compassionate caregiver to your home. Or, if you require extensive support, like dementia care or in-home senior care, Assisting Hands will efficiently evaluate and swiftly fulfill the non-medical needs of local seniors.