As Cold Man Winter approaches, it is certain that many seniors and their families agree that winters in the Northeast can be particularly harsh for older people.
Many, in fact, remain homebound during much of the winter due to an inability to dig themselves out after a snowstorm or to navigate snow-filled roadways and icy sidewalks.
In addition, many tend to worry about the expense and inconvenience that comes with dealing with living alone during the winter months: high heating bills, few visitors, potential home repair problems, and cabin fever, among other issues.
In fact, this is a time of year when many seniors and their families begin seriously considering a move to a retirement community where meals, groceries, access to medical assistance, recreational activities, transportation and — perhaps most of all — companionship are readily available.
Experts offer these winter safety precautions for seniors and their loved ones to consider regardless of where they call home:
- Dress warmly. Dress warmly and in loose fitting clothes, layering whenever possible. Seniors should never venture out without wearing a hat, since as much as 50 percent of body heat is lost through the head. Gloves should also be worn to prevent frostbite and a scarf or mouth covering used to protect the lungs against cold air.
- Keep hydrated. Even in the cold weather, hydration is very important. Seniors should continue to drink six to eight glasses of water daily.
- Protect against falls. This is the biggest concern for senior! Those who are prone to falls because of reduced mobility and vision add to the potential for serious injury should they fall because of weakened bones. To protect against slipping outside, wear shoes that have a good rubber tread. If canes or walkers are used, make sure rubber tips are in good condition.
- Set thermostat inside the home to at least 65 degrees. Older people are at a far greater risk of Hypothermia and need to stay alert to the symptoms. Signs include drowsiness, slow or slurred speech, memory loss, disorientation, and a sense of exhaustion. If any of these symptoms become apparent, warm the victim gradually; have them change into warm, dry clothes; cover them with a blanket; and get medical attention promptly. Plastic sheeting used to cover windows can help insulate the home and prevent against drafts. Make sure any heating problems are fixed expeditiously.
- Keep smoke detectors in good working order. This becomes especially important at a time of year when people are likely to use portable heating devices and fireplaces. Remember to replace batteries on a regular basis. Emergency devices should be readily available at all times.
- Keep plenty of medicines, medication, and food on hand. Since it is particularly difficult for seniors living alone to have access to supermarkets, pharmacies, or physicians during the winter, they should be well-stocked at all times with the necessities.
Winter is an especially difficult time for many seniors. Following these precautions can make these months safer and more comfortable.
For more information on Independent Senior Living and to learn about our “Winter Stay” contact Parkwood Heights at 315-986-9100 or 585-223-7595