Winter Safety Tips

Winter is upon us which can be a special time for caution if you or someone in your family is an older adult. Tis the season for flus, slips on icy streets, and other dangers that can be especially traumatic for Seniors.
A simple fall can have devastating effects for older men and women. A minor cold can easily escalate into a bronchial episode. They should have Flu and pneumonia inoculations annually. Seniors are more susceptible to adverse reactions to cold temperatures such as hypothermia. Here are some helpful tips.
Make sure indoor temperatures are not to low and when venturing out be sure to dress in layers, making sure there are no exposed areas. According to the NIA the following can be signs of hypothermia; slowed or slurred speech; sleepiness or confusion; shivering or stiffness in the arms and legs; poor body control; slow reactions or a weak pulse. When using a portable heater exercise caution. It should never be left unattended as they can be a fire hazard.
Check the lighting in the home. Make sure there are no great contrasts from one room to another. Older people have difficulty adjusting to changes in light and high contrasts increase the risk of slip and falls. Also, use night lights, and avoid loose extension cords.
Check your rugs. Make sure they are not wrinkled or torn in a way that may trip you up as you walk. Use padding or special tape underneath them to prevent sliding.
Make sure the bathroom has mats inside and outside the tub to prevent slipping on a wet surfaces. If warranted, install grab bars inside the tub, and be sure to check the water temperature.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate! Drink at least four or five glasses of water every day. This should not change just because it is winter.
Make sure your smoke alarms are working. You should also have carbon-monoxide alarms.
Avoid falls outside by wearing appropriate footwear. Comfortable shoes with anti-slip soles and replacing worn cane tips will help to navigate in icy conditions.
Have a programmable phone with emergency numbers entered and make sure it is always charged. Use a personal emergency response system – a device worn around the neck or on a bracelet, which can summon help if needed. This device should be worn all the time. Because the inclement weather makes it hard for Seniors to get out and about check in on them regularly even if it is just a phone call. Socialization is an important part of a healthy regimen.
If they are still driving they need a small survival kit in their car w food water etc if they go off on the ice or get stuck in a pileup and should always have their phone with them. Lastly don’t drive if it’s hazardous at all, select grocery stores, dining establishments and pharmacies will deliver. Find out which ones in advance and be prepared
Prepare for power outages. Make sure you have easy access to flashlights and a battery powered radio. Stock up on non-perishable food items and bottled water. Set up a “phone chain”with family and friends to check in on each other.
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Sources DHSS, Childrensnyp, Care.comTalking to Elderly Parent About In-Home Care | Your Own Home