Cold weather can be a bother for anyone, but for seniors it can be dangerous. They are particularly vulnerable to complications from winter weather, with the flu and falls on the top of the list. It’s important to be aware of the many hazards winter can bring. Here’s what to do, and not to do, to stay safe!
Do prevent falls in icy conditions
Preventing falls is critical. Keep driveways, porches, ramps and sidewalks clear of snow and ice. Put down salt to melt the ice and to provide extra stability. Also, be sure to wear rubber-soled boots or shoes. In addition, add non-skid pads to your shoes, as well as new treads on canes and walkers. You can ask friends, family, or caregivers for help with any of these.
Do clear the driveway regularly
Enlist the help of a neighbor or hire a local service that will plow and shovel on a regular basis. Also, if possible, invest in a good snow blower. Manual snow shoveling is strenuous, time-consuming and sometimes dangerous work. Many seniors will prefer to ask someone else for help with this task.
Do make sure that your house is well heated
Before the start of winter, you should make sure the furnace or gas heaters have been serviced. Change the filter on the furnace. Make sure the propane tank is full. Use only modern space heaters. Keep them away from flammable objects, such as clothes, blankets or curtains. Also, have extra blankets, sweaters and slippers within easy reach of your bed, couch, or wherever you spend the most time.
Do prepare for the worst-case scenario
One bad snowstorm can cause a great deal of havoc. Be prepared for the worst-case scenario, like losing power for a week or more. If there is a generator for the house, make sure it is serviced. If not, have one installed that is powerful enough to run a few lights and essential appliances during a power outage. Stock up on water, batteries, candles and canned food. Always keep a disaster kit handy.
Do stock up on medical supplies
Health conditions, such as incontinence, multiple sclerosis and Crohn’s Disease, don’t take snow days. Traveling during storms to purchase needed medical supplies can be dangerous. In some weather conditions driving is impossible. Purchase home medical products online. You can choose from an array of products for every kind of health condition. No matter the weather, the products arrive in a fast and timely way. In some cases, they arrive the same day.
Don’t shovel alone
Never shovel snow alone. The combination of colder temperatures and physical exertion increases the workload on the heart. Even walking through heavy, wet snow or snowdrifts puts a huge strain on the heart. Shoveling also increases the chance of a fall, injuries and muscle strains. Ask for help. If you’re active enough to manage it, be sure you still have someone who can come help out, and can be there should you need them.
Don’t leave the house without properly dressing for the cold
Winter storms can leave motorists stranded. Individuals with compromised health are more sensitive to the cold and need extra layers for warmth. Make sure that you are well dressed in case of an accident before heading out. Also, make sure you have a windproof coat, hat, gloves and waterproof boots – even for short trips. It’s also a good idea to leave extra winter clothing, snacks and water in the car at all times.
Don’t forget to hydrate
Seniors and those who are sick are more prone to wintertime dehydration. The air is drier and they tend to feel less thirsty. Nevertheless, it’s vital to keep hydrated. Fill a pitcher each morning to serve as a reminder to yourself to drink eight glasses of water. Add lemon slices or juice to flavor the water. This makes it easier to drink.
Don’t overlook the importance of car maintenance
In the winter we tend to drive less. For this reason, too often we let car maintenance slide. Keep your car – if you still drive – running well. Make sure the tires are in good shape and can handle winter conditions. Also, make sure the antifreeze and windshield wiper fluids are full. Keep the gas tank above half-full at all times. Otherwise, condensation can build up in a near-empty gas tank in sub-freezing temperatures. This causes the fuel line to freeze-up. A reliable car is crucial during the cold months, especially in case of a medical emergency.
With these simple steps, and some help from loved ones, you can enjoy this wonderful time of the year to its fullest!