Five Winter Weather Tips for Seniors
During the summer, it’s almost impossible to escape heat warnings and persistent reminders to check on aging family and neighbors. However, in the rush of the holidays, we may forget that winter presents its own dangers. Freezing temperatures, difficult weather conditions, and the challenges of mental and physical well-being are doubly difficult for the elderly. Whether you or a loved one are over the age of 65, these 5 tips will help you cope with the cold.
Snowfalls of Another Kind
No matter when or how they happen, falls are a major threat to senior health. From the injuries received directly on account of the accident to a variety of subsequent complications, spills on snow and ice can have serious consequences for older adults. To stay on your feet, make sure you have the best gear for the weather. Sturdy boots with good grip will help you navigate treacherous ice and snow. Additionally, in-home falls are also more likely in winter. Avoid slippery floors by investing in a good all-weather floor mat or boot tray to keep entrances clear of condensation from ice and snow.
Dress for the Weather
Because of lower metabolic rates, poor circulation and other health factors, seniors are particularly susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia. According to the CDC, people over the age of 65 make up more than half of hypothermia-related deaths. Layering is critical when dressing for cold temps. This can be especially complicated for seniors with memory-related impairments. In addition to a good pair of winter boots, a good winter coat, gloves, hat, and scarf are essential to winter outings. Furthermore, Underarmor or similar protection can help keep the body warm when exposure to the outdoors may be prolonged.
Weather the Storm
Though we may associate power outages with summer thunderstorms, icy powerlines and other severe weather conditions mean winter can be a prime time for interruptions in service. Ensure your living space is stocked with everything you need to make it through several days without power. Flashlights, a battery-powered radio, warm blankets, non-perishable foods, and bottled water are all cold weather essentials. For a list of suggested items, check out this winter survival checklist. Also consider keeping an extra charged cellphone battery or auto-charger on hand. If you’re not able to check on a loved one following a storm, enlist the help of a local friend or neighbor.
Stay SAFE and Warm
Various heating methods, including gas heaters, fireplaces, and even lanterns, can all lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. Make sure your carbon monoxide detector is in good condition with working batteries intact. Be sure to follow manufacturers directions on heating appliances, and verify that your heater is safe for indoor use. Check out the Department of Energy website for more information.
Beat the Blues
While talk of flu shots and remaining well during cold season is a matter of concern for the elderly, mental health is equally important and often overlooked. Winter weather can lead to increased feelings of isolation, which can lead to depression. A support system of family members, friends, and neighbors can help insulate against the winter blues. There are also plenty of ways to stay active and engaged, even if the cold keeps you stuck indoors. One list we found is full of ideas, including:
- Take a class online
- Connect with family on social media
- Have an in-home spa day
- Do crossword puzzles
- Visit a neighbor
While winter can be a challenging time, advance planning and preparation will ensure optimal safety and wellbeing while offering invaluable peace of mind to both seniors and the people who love them.