Here in the Pacific Northwest, the 2019 winter season was shaping up to be a mild one. In fact, while the Northeast was hit with the Polar Vortex, here in the PNW we were experiencing warm, sunny weather.
But that all seemed to change overnight.
One day it is mild weather with a warning of possible snow and the next day it is snowing nonstop. A few weeks later and snow is still on the ground in some places.
While the snow is pretty to look at, inclement winter weather poses several risks to vulnerable populations such as our elderly loved ones. These risks include but are not limited to slips and falls due to slick conditions, increased hypothermia risk from cold weather, and social isolation from being stuck at home.
To make sure you senior makes it through the rest of Winter safe and healthy, we thought it would be a good time to review some best practices for winter weather senior safety.
Keep reading, it could save your senior’s life.
If Possible, Wait it Out
Did you know that falls are one of the leading causes of death by injury for people over the age of 65? This risk of injury and death is increased significantly when you add ice and snow to the mix, which is why we recommend trying to refrain from walking outside in inclement weather if at all possible. If your senior must venture out, make sure they wear shoes with good traction.
During the winter, temperatures and weather can change in the blink of an eye. Because of this, whenever your elderly loved one leaves the house, we recommend layering their clothing. This will allow them to remain warm outside and comfortable once they come back indoors. Since we lose the most heat through our head, make sure your loved one wears a hat when they go outside as well.
Hire Someone to Shovel Your Snow
Icy and snowy walkways have the potential to cause great harm and injury to your elderly loved one. Which is why keeping them clear during the winter is so important. Hiring a local snow removal service will make sure their walkways stay clear and prevents your senior from trying to do it themselves.
Know the Hypothermia Warning Signs
Did you know a slight decrease in temperature can be very dangerous for an elderly loved one? In fact, at a body temperature of 95 degrees they have an increased risk of heart attacks, kidney problems, and liver damage. For tips and how to spot hypothermia, read our blog titled “5 Hypothermia Tips to Protect Your Elderly Loved One” here: https://wisercareservices.com/blog/hypothermia-tips/.
Stash Some Cat Litter
This may sound kind of strange, but cat litter can provide some much-needed extra traction on non-treated icy surfaces. If you plan to go out, bring a little bag to sprinkle when needed. We know it is strange, but it could keep you safe.
Check the Thermostat
It is important to make sure your senior’s house remains at a comfortable temperature inside. Their thermostat should be set to 68 degrees F at a minimum. This keeps them warm and ensure the heating bill isn’t too outrageous.
Don’t Heat the Outside
There’s no way around it. Keeping your house warm in the winter is expensive, which is why it is important to make sure you keep your house warm efficiently. To do this, make sure you close all windows and seal them off, place rolled blankets at seams of infrequently used entry ways, and close doors to rooms that aren’t being used. We also recommend keeping the blinds drawn to keep cold drafts out.
Be Ready for Power Outages
Winter storms can easily wipe out powerlines for days on end. To keep your elderly loved one safe during inclement weather, help them stock up on non-perishable food, batteries, blankets, etc. We also recommend considering investing in a secondary power source such as a generator.
Avoid Space Heaters
Even though they can be helpful, the potential risks of using a space heater greatly outweighs its benefit.
Buy a Carbon Monoxide Alarm
Gas heaters, fireplaces, lanterns, and gas stoves all emit deadly carbon monoxide emissions. During the winter when the windows are sealed up this deadly gas becomes even more dangerous. Carbon monoxide alarms are reasonably priced and could ultimately save your elderly loved one’s life.
Invest in Companion Care
Social isolation is a particularly prevalent issue amongst the elderly and it only gets worse during the winter. Combine this with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and you have a recipe for danger. Which is why companion care services are so important. While a companion caregiver can administrate necessary care, the entire goal of companion care is to provide company. Wiser Home Care Services has wonderful companion care caregivers that are there for conversation, able to take seniors to social outings, errands, and activities as well as do light housekeeping duties.
With Wiser Home Care Services’ Companion Care, you can trust that your elderly loved one is being watched over and safe in the comfort of their own home.
To learn more about Wiser Home Care’s services and request a free care assessment click here: https://wisercareservices.com/care-services/companion-care/.