October 13, 2021

7 WINTER SAFETY TIPS FOR SENIORS

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Winter is a season known for many things: festive holidays, connecting with loved ones, and delicious winter treats like peppermint bark, hot chocolate, and homemade cookies.

The change in season also brings potential threats, such as frigid temperatures, snow and icy weather, and an increase in physical illnesses. For older adults, it’s important to be prepared for whatever winter brings in order to stay safe. Read on to learn our seven winter safety tips for seniors.  

1. Have the right shoes.

Check the bottom of your shoes (or your loved one’s shoes) to make sure they have good traction. The older the shoes, the more worn down they will be and the less traction they will have, increasing the chance of falling. Also check to see if the shoes are waterproof or make sure there is a spare pair to change into if one pair gets wet. Pack an extra pair of socks to help keep those feet dry and warm.

2. Salt sidewalks and driveways.

Black ice is dangerous, so it is important to put salt on sidewalks and driveways when the weather starts taking a turn. The salt will help with traction and reduce the risk of falling. If you or your loved one live in a housing association or apartment complex, call and check that they are putting salt down on the sidewalks and parking lots. In addition to putting salt down, it would be beneficial to add handrails to outside stairways if they do not already exist. Finally, to assist with visibility, set up motion sensor lights outside to give you and your loved one a better chance to see black ice. The lights would reflect off the ice and make it easier to notice.

3. Be aware of fire hazards.

House fires increase in winter partly due to the increased use of space heaters. The National Fire Protection Association says that space heaters contribute to two out of five house fires related to heating equipment. The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission has some tips you and your loved one can use to minimize risks while using a space heater:

  • Keep the heater three feet away from other objects.
  • Do not power the heater using an extension cord or a power strip.
  • Do not leave the space heater on when you are sleeping or away from your home.
  • Visit SaferProducts.gov to make sure your heater has not been recalled.

Another risk includes fireplaces—remember to get your chimney inspected and cleaned every year before it is used.

Additionally, remember to check smoke alarms, and if you or your loved one are hard of hearing look for an alternative fire alarm system. The National Fire Protection Association has a list of companies that make alarms to aid individuals that are hard of hearing.

4. Eat and drink well.

According to Everyday Health, there are several reasons why you become dehydrated in winter:

  • You do not take water with you on errands in winter as you would in summer.
  • You spend most of your day inside in a warm and dry environment.
  • Wearing your winter clothes increases the amount you sweat.

It is also a good idea not to skip meals. By eating regularly, you and your loved one are more likely to stay warm. According to the National Institute on Aging, having more body fat under your skin helps keep you warm, which decreases your risk of hypothermia.

5. Know the symptoms of hypothermia.

According to the CDC, in 2019 the highest number of deaths due to cold exposure was in older adults 85 and up. WebMD provides a list of risk factors and symptoms for hypothermia, which include:

  • Slow breathing and pulse
  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion

6. Get vaccinated.

Stay safe by having yourself and your loved ones get vaccinated. As WebMD explains, receiving a vaccine will prepare your immune system to fight off the infections. Ask a doctor about when you should get recommended vaccines for the winter season. 

7. Keep in touch with your loved ones.

This time of year, it is important to keep in touch with our loved ones. According to the American Psychiatric Association, we become more susceptible to depression with less exposure to the sun. This can negatively impact our health and keep us from enjoying the little things that make life meaningful.

Due to the temperature in winter, seniors spend most of their time indoors. This may lead to isolation and higher risk of depression. To prevent this, staying in contact with your loved ones can work wonders to help them feel connected. If you are unable to visit, try a Zoom call or another form of video chat. Just seeing a loved one’s face can lighten someone’s day and remind them that they are not alone.

Keeping Loved Ones Safe and Comfortable is Our Priority at Provision Living.

At Provision Living we prioritize keeping your loved ones safe and comfortable during the colder months. Contact our care consultants today to find out how we keep our seniors safe during the winter.

Image credit: istockphoto.com