As much as the winter can be a wonderful time of year, it also comes with a number of seasonal hazards due to the cold weather and dense precipitation. Needless to say, the cold can have quite an impact on a person, especially if he or she is unprepared. As your loved ones age, it's important to take the necessary precautions when winter approaches, to ensure their safety. Here are five precautions to take this winter to help the seniors in your family stay in good health:
1. Rethink decorating
If your loved one requires Alzheimer's care, excessive decorations that make noise or flash may cause disorientation, according to the Mayo Clinic. Decorations that resemble food and candles may also potentially be safety hazards. When you're decorating your home, be cognizant of these risk factors and replace them. For example, wax candles can easily be replaced with electronic ones.
2. Watch out for black ice
Winter slips are a serious concern for seniors. While we can recover from a spill relatively quickly when we're young, seniors can face major health complications when they fall. Care.com recommends making sure everyone in your family wears shoes with good traction and replacing worn cane tips with fresh ones that have stronger grip. Remember to regularly shove walkways and driveways to help prevent ice from forming.
"Stockpile warm blankets, batteries, flashlights and nonperishable food items so that you can weather a power outage safely."
3. Stockpile supplies
Winter storms and heavy winds can cause lengthy power outages during the cold season. Under these circumstances, it's important to be properly equipped with supplies so that you and your loved ones can stay warm and fed. Stockpile warm blankets, batteries, flashlights and nonperishable food items so that you can weather a power outage safely. Remember that even if you're indoors, without heat you'll likely need more layers to stay warm.
4. Dress warmly when outdoors
Being exposed to cold temperatures for long periods of time can lead to frostbite or hypothermia. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention note that all hypothermia-related deaths are preventable when proper measures are taken. When you're outdoors with your senior loved one, be cognizant of signs of hypothermia and minimize the risk by ensuring that he or she dresses appropriately for the weather. Make sure that you and your loved one wear layered clothing, as well as a hat, gloves and thick socks to stay warm. Avoid staying outside for extended durations, especially on windy days.
5. Ready your car for the winter
Winter can be a tough time on your car, and there's always the possibility of getting stuck in heavy snow or your battery dying due to the low temperature. You don't want to be unprepared if you and your loved one get stranded in your car somewhere. Pack your trunk with tire chains, jumper cables, flares, blankets, a shovel and a first aid kit in case you get stuck. Keep the gas tank full and keep your cellphone on you in case you need to call a tow truck or emergency services.