5 Ways to Keep the Elderly Safe in Extreme Winter Weather
If you have a senior in your life, you may become extra concerned about their health and safety as the temperature takes a dip. The cold temperatures along with other weather issues like ice and snow as well as health concerns can pose a real risk for the elderly when extreme winter weather arrives. The days are much shorter and they may have to be out during darkness, making slips and falls that much more possible. There are steps to take which can help to keep your loved one safer and healthier all winter.
Here are 5 ways to keep the elderly safe in extreme winter weather.
1. Keep in touch. Many elderly are able to live on their own but should be checked on during the wintertime daily. Whether by a visitor or a phone call the senior should be having someone ask about their well being and how their heating is working. This prevents the tragedy of finding seniors in extreme trouble. In addition, emergency numbers should be clearly posted where both the senior and any visitors can clearly see and access them. There is also a great deal of technology which can help. There are amplified telephones that can be answered remotely, emergency monitoring systems and even video cameras which can be installed to make sure the senior is safely aging in place especially during the winter months.
2. Fight the flu. The American Red Cross reports seniors are one of the high risk groups when it comes to influenza. It is important to consult with the senior’s health care professional about receiving a flu vaccine. There are serious complications which can arise from a senior having the flu which include but are not limited to: severe dehydration and malnutrition as well as pneumonia. If the senior does become ill he or she should immediately see the doctor. Other health precautions include: regular handwashing, staying away from anyone who is sick and taking antiviral drugs if the senior does become sick.
3. Guard against hypothermia. As we grow older our body’s ability to maintain a constant internal temperature decreases. Many seniors need additional bed coverings at night in order to stay warm. During the day seniors should be encouraged to dress in layers and pay special attention to hands and feet, perhaps wearing light gloves and slippers. When the senior goes outdoors he or she should have on a hat, gloves and scarves to guard against losing body temperature during the cold winter months.
4. Heat with safety. Far too often the news has a tragic story about a senior who tried to heat their home with an unsafe method. Space heaters often pose a high risk to seniors since they are easy to overlook and leave unattended. Along with candles, space heaters should never be placed near curtains or other flammable materials. In addition, it is crucial to make sure the senior is not using a cooking oven or grill as a heat source since it is not only a fire risk but can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning as well.
5. Prevent serious falls. Falls are the number one cause of injury to the elderly and the risk of falling goes up substantially in the colder winter months. Ice and snow as well as water which is tracked inside the home can all present fall hazards. Surfaces need to be kept clear of snow and ice. Snow removal can often be done not only by family members and friends but neighbors, churches and senior centers. Inside the home, floors should be checked regularly for water which may have been inadvertently brought in as well as any fall hazards that may be present inside the home from furniture being moved to accommodate holiday decorations or other items. All walking surfaces should be inspected regularly to check for water other weather damage which could present a fall hazard. There is also mobility items which can be purchased in order to make the senior safer as they move about their home or outside all doing the year.
One small step for those who use incontinece products is to have them delivered directly to your home (at least during the winter months. The nice ladies at XP Medical can answer any questions you have about this.