Winters can be extremely tough safety for seniors. Many health concerns arise during winter. Hypothermia, frostbite, and dehydration are a few of them. The risk of falls and injuries also increases in winter due to snow-covered and slippery sidewalks.
Existing diseases and medication also affect seniors living in winter. Thyroid issues, Diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Arthritis, etc. make it harder for the body to maintain a normal body temperature. Safety tips for the winter season can help you live stress-free.
8 Winter Safety Tips for Seniors
Where the health risks rise in winter, there are precautions too. Below are some helpful winter safety tips for seniors to enjoy comfortable and stress-free living.
1. Hypothermia Preventions for Seniors:
When the body temperature drops significantly, it indicates that you have hypothermia. A body temperature, lower than 95oF can result in many health issues like heart attack, kidney failure, liver damage, etc.
Hypothermia can happen if you stay outside in the cold or even indoors if you live in an extremely cold region. The most important Winter Safety Tip for Seniors is to watch out for the temperature they are living in.
Safety for seniors should be increased in winter. Winter and senior living are not a good combination. According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), seniors have a higher chance of dying from cold.
People above the age of 70 often have less body fat, ineffective blood circulation, and slow metabolism which increases their cold weather sensitivity. Heart, kidney, and liver diseases and medication greatly impact the ability of an elderly person to maintain a normal temperature.
The thermostat for the elderly should not be set lower than 65oF. Seniors who are above the age of 75 can even get hypothermia indoors. The recommended heating temperature is between 65-70oF for seniors. The ideal room temperature for the elderly is 78oF. Ensure that you dress up in warm layers and stay indoors.
2. Keep Yourself Hydrated:
In addition to hypothermia, senior citizens are more likely to get dehydrated during winter. This typically happens due to the less consumption of food especially liquids. Many seniors don’t feel thirsty in the cold so they don’t get enough hydration.
In winter, air also becomes cold and dry and causes moisture loss. The common dehydration symptoms include urinary tract infection, difficulty in urination, dark urine, dizziness, kidney pain, high blood pressure, confusion, etc. Make sure to maintain your hydration by taking plenty of liquids.
Consuming an adequate amount of water not only prevents dehydration but also makes you feel better overall. Keeping yourself hydrated also lowers the risk of bladder cancer, kidney failure, high blood pressure, UTI, constipation, etc. Hydration is one of the most important winter safety tips for seniors.
3. Keep Yourself Warm & Cozy to Prevent Frostbite:
Elderly people might suffer skin damage during winter. It typically happens when you stay out in the cold for a long time. Seniors can easily catch frostbite and chills during winter. Frostbite affects body areas like the nose, chin, cheeks, fingers, and toes because the blood supply to these areas is slower. Untreated frostbite can result in limb loss, so take the necessary precautions to keep yourself safe.
Winter safety for seniors living in colder regions includes keeping themselves warm with the help of gloves, socks, scarves, sweaters, and other warm apparel and blankets. Make sure to dress up in cozy and warm layers even if you are staying indoors. Layers are easy to manage in both ways if you feel too cold or too hot.
4. Prevent Falls & Injuries:
Winter brings ice and snow. The risk of falls rises among seniors due to snow-covered sidewalks, porches, driveways, etc. Make sure that you have all these areas properly shoveled and salted.
If you are unstable on your feet or struggle with mobility issues, a live-in caregiver can help you with light housekeeping. Additionally, wear non-slip, strong grip shoes, and always get support while moving across the sidewalks and slippery areas.
5. Use Space Heaters with Caution to Minimize the Risk of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning:
Despite the fact that space heaters are great safety for seniors in colder months to keep the house warm. But ensuring that they don’t pose a health risk is equally important. If you use a gas space heater or generator, make sure you have a functional CO and smoke detector installed in your home.
Keep a check on power lines if you use electric heaters and humidifiers etc. Keep away all the clutter and equipment, especially that can catch fire such as paper, cloth, alcohol, wood, sprays, etc.
6. Make An Emergency Kit:
Safety tips for the winter season must include making an emergency kit. You should keep all the essential items in one place to be used in case of any emergency. In winter, the power supply may cut off due to wind storms confining seniors to homes for a long time.
An emergency kit can help when things get difficult. It should contain packaged food and water to last for a couple of days. Additionally, a can opener, a few days’ supply of regular medicines and pain killers, a torch, battery-operated radio, spare batteries, and other first aid items.
7. Use Electric Blankets with Caution:
Seniors can use electric blankets to stay warm but they must be used with caution. There is a risk of thermal burns, electric shocks, and even fire. If you have a year-old electric blanket or a mattress topper, it is necessary to get them replaced.
Electric blankets should be used and stored carefully. With time, the fabric, internal coils, electric cords, and controls might get damaged which increases the risk of thermal burns. Electric blankets with an auto shutoff mechanism are preferable but they should also be used with extreme caution.
8. Safety Precautions While Driving:
People older than 65 tend to have more car accidents. Driving in winter requires extra caution because the weather and road conditions are not normal.
Winter Driving Safety Tips include replacing the tires, windshield, and wipers, and also keeping an antifreeze with you. Always keep your cell phone with you. Don’t drive in the snow or on icy roads. Always prefer taking a clear alternate route.
9. Being ready for power disruptions
Winter storms are a part of the chilly months and can cause power disruptions. Before a winter power outage happens, be ready. Keep flashlights and batteries in a location that is simple to get to. In the event that the power goes down for an extended period of time, have a small supply of nonperishable food. Food in your refrigerator and freezer could spoil if the power is out for an extended period of time.
Be careful to stock up on plenty of warm clothing and blankets. If the power stays out, you might need to spend a few days staying with family, friends, or in a hotel since your house will get too chilly.
Winter Safety for Seniors-Final Words:
Cold weather can be challenging for seniors. Current illness and medication might make it difficult for your body to maintain a normal temperature. It also increases the chance of getting new health issues.
Where there is a disease, there is a cure. Similarly, winter safety tips for seniors can help you lower the risk of hypothermia, frostbite, falls, and accidents. It is recommended to have Senior Home Care assistance with you in the winter months if you have any chronic disease or mobility issues.
A live-in caregiver can help you with the required support and can also help you with housekeeping.