Wintertime can present more challenges for your elderly care recipients.
Take steps early to ensure that they will be safe should a winter storm cause them to be stuck at home until the the storm passes. Power outages are common during a larger wintertime snow and/or ice-storm. High winds, heavy snowfall and dangerous ice build-up on power lines are just some of the reasons why these outages can occur.
In this article, we will cover how you can help your senior client prepare for, and get through, the winter.
Helping Your Senior Set Up Wintertime Emergency Contacts
It is critical to set up wintertime emergency contacts for your elderly clients to ensure that they will have someone nearby for any additional health or other problems. Call the family members, talk to nearby neighbors, check evacuation routes near your client’s home and find out if there are close shelters if power is knocked out for an extended period.
Some other emergency contact preparation ideas include:
- Write a Clear, Large & Readable List of Emergency Contact Numbers
- Place the List in a Readily Accessible Spot – On Kitchen Table, By Phone or At Bedside
- Ensure the Client’s Glasses and/or a Magnifying Glass is Near the Phone
- Program Emergency Contacts Into Cell Phone on Speed Dial
- Be Sure to Educate Your Client Regarding Weather Evacuation Details
- Set Up Regular Check Ins in Case Your Company’s Caregiver Can’t Get There
- Have Numbers for Local Senior Citizen Center, Power Company
- Consider Providing a Cell Phone if Client Doesn’t Have One for Emergency Use
Stock Up for Emergency Supplies in Case of Winter Storms
It is crucial to stock up for emergency supplies in case the area gets a damaging winter storm. Check the food supply. Be sure to have easy-to-prepare foods like sandwich makings, microwave meals, canned food and bottled water in case the power goes out.
Some other emergency supplies include:
- Working Flashlights with Fresh Batteries in Accessible Places
- Alternate & Safe Heat Source
- Plenty of Warm Blankets
- Toiletries like Toilet Paper, Soap
- Battery Operated Lights or Solar Powered
- Personal Care Products
- Check & Pick Up Medications Early
Dress Properly for the Winter Season. How Do Elderly Men Keep Ears Warm in the Winter? What to Wear in 65 Degree Weather?
How cold is it? Cold temperatures can be deceptive at first. Have an accurate thermometer to determine the actual temperature. Remember that wind gusts can make the air temp feel much colder.
Dress for the weather by wearing layers of clothing. Choose thicker fabrics known to be warmer like heavy cotton long underwear, long pants, warm top and sweater if needed.
If going outside, always wear a hat because humans can lose up to 8% of their body heat through their exposed head. Those with zero, little or thinning hair lose even more warmth.
Have winter outerwear ready, and this should include an appropriate weight and insulated coat preferably with hood, thick socks, soft warm scarf to cover face/mouth, better gloves and boots. Always inquire what is the weather before heading outdoors. What to wear in 65 degree weather will differ than what should be chosen at 15 degrees.
Note: How do elderly men keep ears warm in the winter? Men can wear behind-the-head ear muffs, use warm face-mask either full or below eyes down and a good quality warm hat with hooded jacket or coat. It is super easy for the elderly to get frostbite much faster than younger individuals. Exposed digits, faces and ears are common places for too much exposure that can lead to frostbite.
Tip: Look for better winter clothing at sporting/hunting apparel stores.
What Are the Best Winter Boots for the Elderly?
Older individuals should have warm, non-skid soled boots that are waterproofed and provide good arch, ankle and foot support. Avoid clunky or high heeled footwear in winter.
The boot soles should be thick, have a textured pattern resistant to slipping, and the material should be of good quality. Ask your doctor or podiatrist for recommendations when wondering what are the best winter boots for the elderly?
Ensure that your senior’s feet stay warm and dry, and limit outdoor exposure during brittle cold snaps. Look for soft warmly lined boots for increased protection and warmth.
How to Make the Home Safe for Elders During the Winter
Do a thorough home check to look for any safety concerns for your older client. Some areas to watch are burned out light-bulbs, stairs, kitchens and bathrooms. Burnt out light bulbs should be replaced.
Avoid throw rugs without a proper backing. These are exceptionally dangerous especially in the bathroom or kitchen.
Consider having a heating company inspect the furnace and/or fireplace if this hasn’t been done for awhile.
Make sure hallways and other darkened areas are lit up well so the senior won’t fall. Make sure stove range is clear of nearby debris.
Invest in a thick welcome mat for entryway door. Keep water from rain or snow off of the floor as this can get very slippery fast.
Other home safety considerations include:
- Close Doors & Air Vents in Unused Rooms to Conserve Heat
- Have Mop or Thick Towels by Door to Quickly Mop Up Any Wetness
- Double Check Lighting Around the Home
- Seal Window or Door Cracks/Openings
- Ensure Bathroom is Safe – Are There Grip Bars, Is the Room Free From Clutter? Is There a Better-Quality Bath/Shower Mat Available?
Cautions Regarding Winter Accidents & Seasonal Illnesses
To avoid those all-too-common cold weather accidents and seasonal illnesses, get a regular medical checkup, eat healthy, exercise to build/maintain strength, inquire about a flu vaccine and get plenty of rest.
Keep Driveways Clear of Ice & Snow in Winter
It is imperative to keep your senior client’s driveways, porch steps and walkways free of snow and/or ice. Have the recommended traction substance for your specific sidewalk, drive or other outdoor surface. Sand is less damaging to cements and other pavements.
Consider utilizing the services of a professional snow removal company for truly safer winter home environments. This is the best way to ensure both your client’s safety and your hired caregivers as well.
Educate your senior on the risks of being outdoors in very cold temperatures. Those with heart, lung or circulation problems should avoid shoveling and heavy outdoor labor as a heart attack or stroke could occur. Your heart will work harder during colder weather, so always find out what is the weather conditions before going outside.
Why Do I Feel Cold All the Time? Why Do I Get Cold After I Eat?
Seniors should ask this question at their next doctor visit. Why do I get cold after I eat? When we eat, our body adjusts to balance the added work of digestion. More blood is sent inward.
Tip: Consider thyroid, anemia, vitamin deficiencies.
Why do I feel cold all the time? This can indicate poorer circulation. As we age, our blood vessels thin, become less elastic and are less able to respond quickly to temperature changes. Our body fat under-the-skin surface also thins, and other chronic health conditions can also affect body temperature.
So, how cold is it? Keep your clients winter prepared, safe and warm.