Helpful Tips To Prepare Seniors for Winter

Winter is approaching fast! This popular season brings family, friends, and loved ones together for the holidays. Great food, fun, and memories to create! This upcoming season brings so many reasons to celebrate. Although it will look beautifully decorated outside with holiday lights and a gorgeous blanket of white snow, along with the beauty comes dangerous snow falls, blizzards, ice, sleet, freezing temperatures, and many other dangers, especially for the elderly.

These weather conditions can cause diseases, sicknesses, hypothermia, frostbite, and most commonly, slips and falls on ice. However, not only does the winter bring physical threats for senior’s health, but also seasonal emotional risks as well.

According to Psychology Today, Seasonal Affective Disorder will affect those who live in darker climates. When winter comes around in some areas, it starts to get darker even earlier. Less sun and light can cause serious depression. 

With all of these hazards ahead in this upcoming season, it’s important that caregivers for their elderly loved ones prepare ahead of time. Taking precautions during the fall will alleviate stress, reduce risks of depression and allow our loved ones to enjoy this season and all it’s festivities to the fullest.

Plan Ahead

Not only do we need to plan for the physical threats, but also for the emotional stressors for your elderly loved one. You can do this by: 

  • Making sure there is efficient lighting in the house to balance out how dark it is going to be.
  • Stock up on groceries for the winter to avoid having to take many trips.
  • Stock up on groceries that do not require refrigerated (in case of power outage).
  • Make sure there is plenty of Vitamin-D (from lack of sunlight and being outdoors).
  • Make sure your loved one has enough warm clothing and blankets.
  • Healthinaging.org suggests purchasing shoes that have non-slip soles to prevent slips and falls on ice.
  • Arrange to have a neighbor, loved one, or hire someone who can shovel to prevent injuries.
  • Prepare their vehicle ahead of time for the harsh weather (oil, tires, wipers, etc.)
  • If they have a fireplace, get it inspected during the fall.
  • If they don’t have a fireplace, make sure to have working and available space heaters.
    • Make sure space heaters are at least 3 feet away from anything that could catch fire.

Always Communicate

Your elderly loved one might not express what they need during this time. In fact, they might not even know what they need. Over communication and checking in with them is crucial for their health and safety. Here are some things that you should take into consideration:

  • Set up a skype system and teach your elderly loved one how to use it to prevent depression.
    • Skype helps with checking in with them as well during weather storms.
  • Know the signs of hypothermia and frostbite and be sure to ask how your loved one is feeling on a daily basis.
    • If you are around, check to see if their fingers and toes are an average color. If you notice discoloration or a waxy feeling, seek medical attention.
  • The National Institute on Aging suggests that if you are aware that a major storm is coming, make sure your loved one is not alone. Have them stay with another family member or friend.

Stay Active

During the winter, most aging adults confine themselves to the comfort of their homes. Being sedentary is a critical risk to the elderly’s heart. However, it can be difficult to find ways to stay active for them. After really knowing what your loved one’s capabilities are, try to find some ways they can keep up their physical activity during the winter.  Here are some suggestions for seniors to stay active:

  • Purchase exercise equipment to use in their home such as dumbbells, ankle weights, and athletic bands.
  • Consult with a personal trainer or doctor for some exercises that they can do independently or with a caregiver at home.
  • Make a goal for them to walk around the house every two hours, just to ensure they are still moving. Walking will also help with body warmth.
  • The American Senior Communities suggest that using video game systems such as a WiiFit or watching simple videos to lead you in exercises.
    • Research systems beforehand to see what will fit best with your loved one.

Seniors deserve to enjoy the winter season despite the physical and emotional risks that come along with the season. Prepare ahead of time so they can feel ready for the upcoming holidays!

 

Taking care of a senior during the winter is not an easy job. The fall season is a perfect time to start considering what care options are available to you to lessen the stress of the winter months. There is no better feeling than knowing that your loved one is taken care of during the winter season. To learn more, click here.