Winter presents some of the most dangerous weather conditions for your senior family members.
It brings on plenty of health care challenges for your loving parents or grandparents. Senior family members who are home-bound or with mobility issues are the most affected during the cold winter months.
Slips and falls, power outages, snow removal, driving, and keeping warm are some of the most common challenges experienced by senior family members during this period. In fact, countless seniors are bound to be hospitalized this winter following slip and fall accidents.
Keeping your loved one off of this list is important for the overall health and well-being of the senior. There are many things to do to keep your senior family member safe during the bitter winter months.
Here are some of the most effective winter safety tips for seniors.
Why Is the Fall Risk Higher for Seniors in the Winter?
Elderly adults should be aware of the increased risk of falls with the arrival of the cold winter season. Venturing outdoors during this time of the year is a real risk due to snow and ice in the driveway.
Elderly adults have an increased risk of falling during the cold winter months due to many reasons such as:
- The sensation in our feet declines with age. Seniors who suffer from diabetes, arthritis, poor sight, poor circulation, and those who suffer the complications of a stroke are more prone to the loss of sensation in their feet. It can affect the balance of the senior and slippery surfaces increase the risk of injury due to loss of balance issues.
- Most of the time, seniors have an unsteady gait even during normal weather conditions. Sedentary adults have weakened muscles and are more prone to slip and fall accidents during the winter season.
- Seniors are on multiple medications at any given time. This can cause various side effects such as dizziness and dementia. These conditions can increase the risk of slip and falls of seniors.
How to Improve Safety for Seniors in the Winter Months
Wear the Right Footwear
Ensure that your senior family member wears the right footwear. See that your parent or grandparent wears shoes and boots that are in good condition. The shoes or winter boots for the elderly should provide good friction on the heels to keep the foot secure and include anti-slip traction to protect the individual when walking on ice or snow.
Get A Flu Shot
Nearly 75% of seasonal flu-related deaths occur in people over 65 years of age. The flu hits North America during the winter season. The flu can have adverse complications such as pneumonia in older adults. Older adults should get an updated vaccine before each flu season to stay healthy during the harsh winter months.
Get Your Eyes Checked
Your senior family member’s chances of falling in winter are increased if they are wearing the wrong prescription eyewear. A routine eye exam will go a long way to prevent seniors from hurting themselves from falling during the harsh winter season.
Eye problems such as glaucoma and cataract can be prevented or diagnosed early on with a routine eye exam. These conditions will gradually worsen and increase their risk of injuries during the cold season.
Watch the Temperature and Weather
Keep an eye on the temperature to protect your senior family member – Seniors can easily become too cold and become dehydrated. Patients with cardiac problems are more prone to getting colder. The room of your senior should be shielded properly and the windows sealed to prevent draft.
Get the Car Ready for Winter
Road safety is important – If your parent or grandparent is still driving, winter tires can make a huge difference in increasing his/her safety on the road. Your car will stop faster and skid less with winter tires.
Don’t drive when there are too much snow and ice – The reflexes and processing speed will decline as a person ages. It might be harder for a senior to maintain his/her focus when there is snow or ice on the road.
A senior might find it difficult to regain control of the vehicle when it slips on snowy roads. That’s why your senior should stay away from driving when there are too much snow and ice on the road.
Eat Properly and Exercise
Remind the senior to eat healthy to stay fit during the harsh winter season – Keeping your bones strong is important to prevent them from breaking if you slip and fall in the winter.
The right amount of food, supplements, and nutrients are important for this purpose. Calcium, vitamin D, and dairy products are important for your family member during this period.
Senior family members who work hard to maintain their muscle strength, balance, flexibility, and endurance are less likely to suffer slip and fall injuries during the harsh winter season. That’s why year-round routine exercise is considered the most effective practice for seniors to stay healthy and fit during the cold winter season.
Have Someone Lined Up To Do Snow Removal
An icy driveway or walkway increases the risk of falling of your senior. You should clear the driveway and walkways or get someone to clear them for you when it is snowing outside.
Hire a contractor ahead of time to shovel the snow and salt the sidewalks. That way your senior family member will stay safe during the harsh winter months.
Service the Furnace and Fireplace
Get the furnace, wood stove, and chimney serviced before the winter season – Get the furnace, wood stove, and chimney cleaned and serviced by professional service providers before the arrival of winter. The last thing your parent or grandparent wants is for one of these appliances to break down when they need it the most.
Have Backup Lighting Ready
Avoid candles and keep a flashlight ready. Power outages are quite common during the harsh winter months. Keep several flashlights in easily accessible areas so that your senior has access to them when there is no power.
The kitchen counter, nightstand, or coffee tables are the best places to have these lights. Since open flames are dangerous when there is no power, you should avoid candles at all costs.
RELATED: Best Lighting For The Elderly
Make sure the outdoor lighting is working properly before the winter arrives. Consider having some additional light fixtures outside the house.
Wear the Right Clothing
The right warm clothing for seniors is important to prevent falls and injuries during the winter months. Encourage your senior family member to wear the right clothes in the winter months. This will reduce the risk of falling and injuring themselves.
Have a Safety Plan
Make sure your parent or grandparent has an easy to use mobile phone to get immediate help during a fall. If they are using assistive devices, make sure they practice them properly so that they know how to use the device in an emergency.
Invest in Home Safety Products
Check for products that can guarantee the safety of your loved one – Check orthopedic stores and consult a nurse or physician to find out about these safety products. There are many online stores that sell these types of products. You can easily learn more about these option on the home safety section of this site.
Winter presents some of the most dangerous weather conditions for your senior. It increases the risk of slips and falls for your senior family member. Seniors with mobility issues are more prone to such injuries than there others.