We are all so focused on the pandemic, it is easy to forget the safety basics.
As the temperatures begin to drop and the snow and ice cover the ground, do you worry about your parents’ safety? Fortunately, there are several things your parents can do to stay warm, avoid falls and maintain their health during the cold winter months.
- Be sure your parents wear shoes with grippy treads.
- Replace worn-out cane tips.
- Encourage Mom and Dad to stay home if the roads and sidewalks haven’t been cleared of snow and ice.
- Remind parents to remove their shoes as soon as they get home (right by the door), to avoid creating slipping hazards from wet floors.
- If Mom wants to get some outdoor exercise, but Dad is unable to join her, consider hiring a companion to help ensure a safe walk.
- Shoveling snow can be dangerous. Consider asking a neighbor for help or hire a professional to assist with snow removal.
- Digging out snow can add tremendous strain on the heart, and older adults are more vulnerable to hospitalization from over exertion.
Pay attention to good nutrition this winter
- Dark and cold winter months can result in low vitamin D levels. Encourage your parents to eat foods high in vitamin D.
- Here are some suggestions: fish, grains, and milk. Be sure to consult the doctor if your parents have specific dietary restrictions, or you think they could use additional supplements.
Avoid feelings of social isolation
- Winter months can increase social isolation, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic. Time indoors, combined with little or no social interaction, can create feelings of loneliness and sadness. Find ways to check in daily with a quick phone call, text message or email. If possible, hire companion services to help your elderly parents get through these tough times.
Winter driving safety tips
- If your parents are not ready to give up the car keys, encourage them to stay safe at home during cold winter days when roads can be treacherous. If they still insist on driving, be sure to check the car's safety including - tire pressure, treads, antifreeze levels, etc. If they don’t have AAA (or some other roadside service), try to sign them up.
- Make sure Mom and Dad have emergency phone numbers easily accessible in their cell phones - and yes, be sure they keep their cell phones charged and with them at all times.
- Keep a Severe Weather Safety Kit in the car with a snow brush, jump starter cables, flashlight, winter boots, and an extra blanket.
Keep Mom and Dad warm; avoid hypothermia
- Older adults have slower metabolisms and typically, engage in less physical activity – both of which contribute to losing body heat. Encourage your loved ones to wear lots of layers and, if it’s very cold, cover every part of the skin. Wear warm socks, a hat, gloves, ski mask, scarf, coat - all of it.
- Seek medical attention if your loved one’s body temperature dips below 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Discourage drinking alcohol or caffeinated drinks. Dad might enjoy a nice glass of scotch to warm himself up, but actually, alcohol has the opposite effect. Sadly, this also goes for caffeine! Both drinks lower body temperatures and can be dehydrating.
- Check to ensure the household heating system is working and that the thermometer is set to a warm temperature.
Prepare for power outages and keep the house warm
- Keep flashlights and extra batteries ready and accessible.
- Have blankets and extra layers of clothing on hand.
- Keep food on hand that doesn’t require refrigeration in case of a power loss.
- Invest in an easy-to-use battery-powered radio and a back-up power pack to charge your parent’s cell phones.
- Help your parents conserve heat by sealing off and closing as many windows and doors, as possible.
- Confirm that your parent’s fire and carbon monoxide alarms are working (check batteries every 6 months).
- Remind your parents never to leave space heaters unattended; keep heaters at least 3 feet away from anything.
Blustery winter months can be difficult for everyone, especially our most vulnerable seniors. There are plenty of precautions that can be taken, so we hope these tips will help keep your loved ones safe and comfortable this winter.
If you have questions, or are ready to hire a certified caregiver, please contact us at 617-527-9000 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We would be happy to schedule a free needs assessment at your convenience.