Winter means beautiful frosty landscapes and exiting holidays, but it also means harsh weather, freezing temperatures and dangerous conditions in many parts of the country. Family caregivers like you need to put some thought into how you can keep your elderly relative safe, healthy and warm during the winter months.
Here are 7 winter safety tips for elderly adults that you as the family caregivers should implement as soon as possible.
1. Stock up on ice melt and make arrangements for someone to come in and do snow removal from the driveway and sidewalk when you can’t make it. This can be a paid professional service, homecare aide, family member or neighbor.
2. Prepare an emergency supply kit for power outages. This should include flashlights, batteries, non-perishable food, portable cell phone charger, battery-powered radio, bottled water, extra medicine and a list of emergency contacts.
3. Check that all carbon monoxide detectors are working and have fresh batteries. Space heaters should also have plenty of space around them to avoid becoming fire hazards. Also, make sure the heating system has recently been checked by a professional and that everything is working well.
4. Winterize your car by checking the wipers and fluid and making sure the tires are good. Include an ice scraper in your car, and keep a small emergency kit in there with some food, water and a portable cell phone charger.
5. Help your elderly relative avoid getting sick this winter by taking them to get a flu shot. Influenza can be deadly for seniors because their bodies have a harder time resisting illnesses. Don’t delay a doctor visit for illnesses like bronchitis, pneumonia and even a common cold.
6. Help your aging loved one stay warm during the cold winter months. An aging body has a difficult time regulating body temperature so it’s easier for seniors to get hypothermia. Give them loose layers to wear instead of one bulky item and if they are feeling extra cold, they can wear a hat indoors. Shoes should have non-skid soles and fit properly.
7. If you have a homecare service for your elderly loved one, make plans with them ahead of time about what to do in the event of a winter storm or other emergency. This may include what to do if the elderly person gets hurt or falls sick, what happens if the homecare aide can’t make it due to a winter storm and what winter tasks will homecare aides perform, such as shoveling snow.
As the family caregiver, you have the responsibility to make sure your elderly relative stays out of harm’s way during the winter months. Seniors can struggle with winter-related challenges, so having a dependable and prepared family member like you can make all the difference to them.