The leaves are changing, pumpkin flavored coffee is back, and the morning air is crisp. We are well into October, which means that Fall has officially arrived. With fall means cold weather is just around the corner. For some, the cold weather is already here! Regardless, with the winter months promising to come, now is the time to begin planning for those fridged January nights. While Winter brings unique hazards regardless of age, there are a few common dangers to consider for the elderly. As you look ahead and plan for the seasons, consider these cold weather tips for seniors!
Cold Weather Tips for Seniors
Avoid Slips and Falls
Falling is a major health risk for seniors year round but this is especially true when snow and ice are around. Injuries from falls can range in severity but are never enjoyable for the injured or their family. Now is the perfect time to take a look at your senior loved one’s shoes to make sure that they are still providing good traction. While outdoor falls are certainly dangerous, snow and ice can also cause in-home falls when tracked in from the outside. Ensure that your loved one’s home has fresh mats at each of their doors so that guests can wipe their feet. As always, encourage your loved one to be very deliberate when walking through treacherous conditions like snow and ice.
It’s no secret that cold weather can be annoying. Few people like putting on layers and layers of clothes just to run a simple errand. However, cold weather is more than a simple nuisance. Excessively cold temperatures can actually present health risks when you are not dressed for the weather. When your body temperature gets too low, you can suffer from hypothermia. Hypothermia can occur for seniors when body temperature drops below 95° F. With hypothermia can come severe health risks like heart attack, kidney problems, liver damage, or even worse. Avoid these health issues by dressing for the weather when outside and keeping the temperature in your loved one’s home above 68° F.
Check the Carbon Monoxide Detector
This is perhaps one of the most manageable cold weather tips for seniors. Although having a working carbon monoxide detector is important year round, it is especially important in the winter. When keeping warm in your home, you may want to light a fire or take a hot bath or shower. Generally speaking, this should not be a problem. However, if for some reason the fuels used do not burn completely it could create carbon monoxide. Whether burning wood or gasoline, carbon monoxide is a dangerous gas that is nearly impossible to identify without a detector. Double and even triple check your loved one’s carbon monoxide detector so that they can warm themselves safely all season long!
Fight the Winter Blues
With colder weather and shorter days comes the winter blues. This is something that we can all experience regardless of age. However, depression in seniors can be especially dangerous. When it’s cold out it can be difficult to get around meaning that seniors may have less contact with loved ones than during other parts of the year. The feeling of social isolation is one of the primary causes of depression among seniors. Make sure that you check in on loved ones as frequently as possible to remind them you care and to help them avoid these feelings of isolation
Winter presents a unique set of dangers to the elderly. Start considering how to avoid these dangers now with the cold weather tips for seniors discussed above. If you worry that about your loved one being on their own this winter, look for signs that it might be time for them to move into assisted living. Cold weather can be challenging but with the support of others, it doesn’t have to be dangerous. Looking for an assisted living facility? Let us help with that! Check out our assisted living options right here.