Wintertime draws in a whole new set of concerns when it comes to safety. As temperatures drop and inclement weather arrives, seniors are more at risk for health related problems and injuries.
Whether you are living alone, with a spouse, or are the friend or caregiver of a senior who is aging in place, there are a number of things you should know about staying safe and healthy this winter. Here are a few helpful ideas …
- Slick, icy conditions are the main cause of slips, trips and falls. For seniors, these injuries can result serious complications like concussions, as well as hip and wrist fractures. Stay off of slick surfaces if possible, and always wear shoes with traction and non-skid soles. Replace the tip on walking canes or use a pick-style insert to help with walking on slippery surfaces.
- Seasonal illnesses and cold-weather conditions are common for seniors this time of year. Get the flu vaccine as soon as it becomes available. There is a high-dose available for adults over 65 that provide a stronger immune response. Extreme cold can cause conditions like frostbite and hypothermia especially for seniors because they produce less body heat than younger adults. If you plan to be outside, cover your entire body and wear layers. Know the warning signs of hypothermia, and never stay outside if your skin changes color begins to hurt, or you are shivering uncontrollably.
- Fireplaces, natural gas heating, portable space and kerosene heaters all pose carbon monoxide poisoning and/or fire risks. Make sure chimneys are properly ventilated, and have them regularly inspected. Use space heaters with care and attention. Keep a fire extinguisher handy, and check all smoke detectors.
- Prepare for power outages. Winter storms can cause power outages that leave us not knowing when electricity/heat will return. Stock up on flashlights, batteries and non-perishable foods. Plan to stay with friends or loved ones that have power in the event yours is out longer than expected.
- Winterize and prepare your car. Have the battery, oil, antifreeze, tires, and windshield wipers checked before winter weather arrives. Stock your vehicle with emergency supplies like first aid kit, blanket, extra clothes, bumper cables and flashlight. Never hit the road without a cell phone.