Winter weather poses risks for everyone, but senior citizens need to exercise additional care when the mercury drops. If you are elderly or the caregiver to an elderly loved one, keep these five important winter safety reminders in mind as the weather worsens.
While cold temperatures affect everyone, older adults are more vulnerable to hypothermia. Symptoms of hypothermia can include confusion, slowed heart rate or breathing, and cold, pale skin. Encouraging seniors to layer their clothing can help keep them comfortable and safe. They also allow for adjustments if conditions are warmer or colder than expected.
- Tread carefully.
Slipping on snowy or icy pavement could easily result in fractures, broken bones or worse. All seniors, but especially seniors with osteoporosis, need to exercise caution when walking outside in the wintertime. When possible, caregivers must make sure sidewalks, steps and driveways are clear of ice and snow. Also, encourage seniors to leave extra time to get to their destinations.
- Monitor carbon monoxide levels.
Increased use of fireplaces and portable heaters poses an increased danger of carbon monoxide poisoning. Help seniors by making sure they have functioning carbon monoxide detectors on every level of their home. Also, encourage them to have vents and fireplaces cleaned and maintained regularly.
Prepare for power outages.
Preparing ahead of time for possible power outages will help ease seniors’ fears and concerns if the electricity goes out unexpectedly. Caregivers should help seniors set aside emergency provisions such as candles, bottled water, non-perishable food, flashlights, and blankets in an easily accessible location.
Cold air and changes in humidity can make breathing difficult and painful. For anyone with COPD or impaired lung function, cold weather can present additional dangers. For seniors using oxygen, keeping the oxygen tubing underneath clothing can help by keeping the oxygen warmer.
When the weather outside is frightful, often the smartest and safest course of action is to stay inside until conditions improve. However, remember that senior citizens often feel isolated. Feeling stuck inside during wintery weather can intensify those feelings and lead to depression. Therefore, it is important to check in on seniors regularly, whether in person or by phone. This may be essential to help combat loneliness and depression.
At David York Agency, we are dedicated to helping the elderly and their loved ones stay safe. We know that winter can be a particularly tough time for seniors. This is why many consider enlisting the help of an in-home caregiver at that time of year. If you or a family member needs a little extra support and attention this winter, we would love to talk to you about your options for home care assistance.
For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate home caregivers, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free phone consultation can help you decide what services might be best. We would be happy to provide you and your loved one with the assistance they need. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn.