As the cold winter months settle in, it’s important to remember that seniors need extra care and attention during this time. Here are some tips to help make sure your elderly loved one remains safe and healthy.
1. Stay Active Indoors
Exercise is just as important during the winter months, even if it means doing activities indoors. Make sure your elderly loved one gets plenty of movement, like taking a leisurely walk around the house or even engaging in some gentle stretching exercises.
Depending on your living environment, it may be difficult to find activities to keep you moving (safely) indoors. One of the benefits of senior living communities is the opportunity to participate in scheduled activities with other seniors. These events are planned to accommodate harsher weather and will be designed with your age group in mind. Plus, you can rest assured that you won’t get bored of the planned activities, since you’ll likely have at least one full-time individual taking care of the programming for you.
2. Dress Appropriately for Cold Weather
If you are outside, layering can help keep you and your senior loved ones stay warm and comfortable during winter weather. Make sure that they are wearing enough layers to regulate their body temperature, but not so many that they become uncomfortable.
Be sure to include winter boots, hats, and gloves as part of the winter wardrobe. A scarf or face covering can be used to protect your lungs from cold air, as well. If it’s raining or snowing, make sure that you have appropriate outerwear and change your clothes whenever they get wet.
3. Keep your Home Warm and Safe
Make sure that winter weather doesn’t take a toll on your elderly loved ones by keeping their home warm enough for them during the winter months. This can be done through additional insulation or by running space heaters or electric blankets.
If you live alone, you may need to consider what you’ll need to do to winterize your home. This includes winterizing windows and doors, making sure you have a functioning carbon monoxide detector, and keeping pathways clear and accessible for seniors to use without risking falls or injuries. Seniors with memory problems or difficulty doing daily tasks should hire an expert or rely on family members or neighbors to get this done safely.
4. Watch for Signs of Winter Illnesses
Since winter brings colder temperatures and fewer hours of daylight, it can also mean an increased risk for winter illnesses like the flu or cold. Check with your elderly loved one regularly to ensure they are feeling well and that their health isn’t jeopardized by winter weather. If you notice any changes in their behavior or if they start to feel unwell, be sure to take action quickly.
Regular check-ups with a family doctor can help seniors keep their health a top priority. If you have a family member who lives in a senior community or assisted living facility, make sure that their care team provides them with access to 24/7 physicians as well as regular wellness checks throughout the year.
5. Be Aware of Seasonal Depression in Seniors
Winter can be a lonely time for seniors so it’s important to stay in contact with them. This doesn’t have to mean long phone calls every day; even small gestures like sending a card or dropping off some winter treats can make a big difference.
If you’re concerned that your elderly loved one may be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) due to the winter months, it’s best to speak with a mental health professional. They may recommend light therapy or suggest an appropriate course of treatment.
Seniors should also consider joining social clubs that focus on winter activities. This will help them stay active and connected with their peers and make new friends. Senior isolation can lead to significant mental health issues, so make sure you’re considering more than just physical health when checking that your senior loved ones are okay.
6. Take Precautions Against Car Accidents and Falls
Whenever possible, seniors should avoid driving in dangerous weather conditions such as snow, ice, or sleet. As we age, our eyesight and reaction times can both suffer, and winter weather conditions can aggravate these issues.
If a senior needs to drive in winter weather, make sure that their car is winter-ready. Check tires, brakes, and headlights regularly to make sure they’re in working order. Have your winter car kit ready with items such as a shovel, winter blankets, extra warm clothing, ice scrapers, flashlights, and other seasonal items that can help during winter emergencies.
If you live in a cold climate where winter brings icy roads and sidewalks, it’s important to be aware of the risk of winter falls. Take extra precautions when walking outside by wearing proper winter footwear with traction for icy surfaces. If you need help navigating icy surfaces or winter terrain, consider using a cane or walker for added stability.
Winter can be an especially difficult time for seniors, but with the right winter safety precautions in place, it can be a safe and enjoyable season. Be sure to check in regularly with your elderly loved ones to make sure they are staying warm and healthy this winter. Follow these winter safety tips and you’ll have peace of mind knowing that your senior family members are well taken care of.
As your elderly family members age, it can become difficult to keep them safe and well-cared for. If you’re interested in touring an assisted living facility where seniors have access to round-the-clock care, contact the team at Serenity Oaks to discuss living options today.