The winter months can bring many extra dangers to the elderly. Here are some of the most common dangers to affect the elderly and how to help ensure safety.
Because ice can often be hard to see, all walkways should be approached cautiously and salted when possible. Seniors should be sure to wear shoes or boots with good traction to help prevent slips.
Snow can pile up in pathways causing seniors to find a different route or attempt to walk through the snow. Alternate routes may be unsafe for travel, while walking through deep snow may cause them to become stuck. Small amounts of snow on pathways can also become slippery and cause a fall. Snow should be cleared from all walkways to avoid these dangerous situations.
Make sure your senior wears appropriate clothing when going outdoors. This includes a heavy coat, gloves, hat, a scarf, thick socks and proper footwear. Because the immune system grows weaker with age, seniors are more susceptible to illness. Elderly individuals should not spend long periods of time in the cold and should make sure the heat is turned on in their home.
Driving after snowfall is hazardous for everyone, especially seniors who may have worsened vision and reaction times. Try to find alternate forms of transportation for seniors during the winter, and unless absolutely necessary, don’t go out in snowstorms. If your senior will be driving, ensure that their car is prepared for winter weather. The vehicle should be thoroughly inspected for possible problems before it is driven on winter roads. Put a supply kit in the trunk in case of an emergency.
Check the pantry to make sure seniors have enough food and offer to provide transportation to the grocery store if necessary. It may also be beneficial to grocery shop for the elderly in order to prevent their having to go outside in the cold weather along with being sure they receive appropriate food to keep up their nutrition and immune system in the cold months.
Ensure the heat is working properly in your senior’s home, and look for drafty windows that may need to be further insulated. Temporary window insulation can be placed over windows, along with thick drapes meant to keep cold air out.
- Regular Tasks
If a senior performs regular daily or weekly tasks such as getting the mail or taking the trash out, consider having a neighbor or friend assist with these activities. If your loved one has a long driveway, it can be difficult to ensure safety while receiving the mail or moving the trash bin. A young neighbor could easily walk the driveway to complete these tasks. If neighbors often clear the snow and ice from their own driveway, consider asking them to also clear the elderly’s driveway. A small monetary incentive can be much less costly than the medical bills that could come from a fall.
Taking all the proper precautions during the winter months can help to keep seniors safe and healthy despite the increased dangers.