1. Beware of Ice
A slip and fall related to ice can lead to injuries varying from hip and wrist fractures to head trauma and major lacerations. According to Dr. Stanley Wang of Stanford Hospital, falls are the leading cause of death from injury in people over the age of 65.
An active lifestyle is a vital factor in remaining productive and happy long into the later years of life. For this reason, it’s understandable if remaining indoors for the season is not a viable option.
When you are walking outdoors during winter make sure to wear shoes with good traction and non-skid soles. Don’t venture outside until the roads have been cleared of excessive snow and debris and make sure to replace the tip of your cane if it’s worn.
When you return indoors, immediately remove your shoes as snow and ice can attach to the soles and once melted can create slippery conditions inside.
2. Dress Appropriately for the Weather
The Centers for Disease Control estimate that more than half of hypothermia-related deaths occur in people over the age of 65.
If you’re going outside on a cold day, make sure to wear thick socks, a heavy coat, a warm hat, gloves and a scarf. It is best to remain indoors during extremely cold temperatures. However, if you do need to be outside, ensure that you cover all exposed skin. This includes using a scarf to cover your face and mouth and protect your lungs.
If you notice your body temperature is below 95°, seek medical attention immediately.
3. Avoid SAD-ness
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression related to changes in the season that typically begins in late fall and lasts until spring, sapping energy and causing mood swings, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Early sunsets, cold weather and less human contact can cause a feeling of loneliness or isolation to develop in seniors. It is important to prevent these feelings by arranging a check-in system with family, neighbors or friends.
A simple, short phone call each day can make a big difference in improving overall well-being.
4. Keep your Car Maintained
Winter driving is a difficult experience for anyone. For older individuals who may not drive as regularly anymore, these complications can be amplified.
Bring your car to a garage, or have a family member take it, to be serviced before winter arrives. Easy fixes such as snow tires with good tread, a fresh battery and good windshield wipers can improve your ability to traverse winter roads.
A roadside service such as AAA is also a wise investment even if it’s only used to provide the comfort of knowing you can be helped in an emergency.
5. Be Prepared for Power Outages
Power outages are not uncommon during winter storms. Make sure your flashlights have batteries and are easily accessible along with candles and a battery-powered radio.
Keep heavy blankets handy, and if the power does go out, be sure to layer yourself in warm clothing, including a hat. If possible, try to stay moving to keep your body temperature up.
Extended power outages will cause food in the refrigerator and freezer to spoil. Keep a supply of non-perishable foods that can be consumed without preparation.
6. Maintain your Diet
Significant time indoors can lead to less variety in your daily meals. This lack of assortment can cause nutritional deficits – particularly Vitamin D. During the winter, try to eat foods fortified with Vitamin D such as milk, grains and seafood (e.g. tuna and salmon).
7. Protect Yourself from Carbon Monoxide
Carbon monoxide is colorless, odorless and tasteless and can be produced by household items such as a fireplace, gas heater or lantern. When stuck indoors with minimal circulation during the winter, Carbon monoxide poisoning is a legitimate concern. Make sure you have an updated Carbon monoxide detector with fresh batteries.
Although cold weather does create some challenges, proper planning and awareness can go a long way in ensuring you, or your elderly loved one, stays safe and healthy this winter.
Stannah also offers weather resistant outdoor stairlifts to provide a safe alternative to slippery and icy stairs. Equipped with a protective cover and suitable for all climates, these stairlifts will ensure you are able to navigate out of your home safely and independently.