Winter Safety Tips for In-Home Caregivers and Seniors
Winter months bring freezing temperatures and slick surfaces, which can be especially dangerous for seniors. Caregivers and seniors should pay close attention to the following winter safety tips to prevent unnecessary illness or injury.
- Watch closely for icy surfaces and avoid falling. Dr. Stanley Wang, a physician at Stanford Hospital in Palo Alto claims that, “falls are a common occurrence for senior citizens, especially during the winter months.” These falls can inflict painful injuries like bone fractures, life-threatening lacerations, or head trauma. Younger people aren’t at risk for certain complications that these injuries can cause in adults over the age of 65, and seniors also have a much longer recovery period. Wearing non-skid soles or shoes with good traction will help prevent slipping, and removing shoes when first coming back indoors will prevent any ice from melting and causing dangerous conditions within the home.
- Wear good winter clothing and stay warm. When temperatures start dipping low, so dips body temperature, and too much cold can lead to dangerous conditions like hypothermia or frostbite. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that over half of all reported hypothermia-related deaths involve people over 65. Keep the temperature indoors at a comfortable and warm level, and utilize gloves, scarfs, warm socks, waterproof shoes, and a snug hat.
- Combat depression caused by wintertime. During the grey of winter, it can be an especially lonely time for many senior citizens, especially since they often have less family available to them. Dangerous conditions can make it difficult to get around and sometimes isolation and frustration can lead to wintertime depression. Check in and visit with your loved ones more often during this time if possible. If not, phone calls and written letters are the next best thing. If distance is an issue, arrange for neighbors or friends to check in from time to time.
- Eat a balanced and healthy diet. Nutritional deficits such as Vitamin D deficiency are more common during the winter because people tend to eat a smaller variety of foods. It is recommended seniors consume foods high in Vitamin D like milk, whole grain, and seafood like tuna or salmon.
- Manage chimney fires, gas lanterns, and other potentially dangerous items. During the winter, accidents involving in-home fires and carbon monoxide poisoning increase exponentially. Keep a close eye on chimney fires and replace batteries on smoke detectors every winter.
Seniors should bear all these things in mind, and never be afraid to ask for help when it is needed. Families would much rather see the ensured safety of their loved one than have to morn a terrible accident due to overstretching one’s personal limits.