The winter season is just around the corner. Elements such ice, snow and
cold temperatures can make life challenging. Slippery sidewalks and cold
weather can cause a wide range of injuries and illnesses for everyone,
and especially for seniors.
Icy, snowy roads and sidewalks make it easy to slip and fall. This occurrence
is more prevalent amongst the senior population. Often these falls result
in major injuries such as hip and wrist fractures, head trauma or major
lacerations. These injuries can be harder for older adults as they face
difficult complications and longer recovery time.
Cold temperatures can lead to frostbite and hypothermia -- a condition
where the body temperature dips too low. According to the CDC, more than
half of hypothermia-related deaths were of people over the age of 65.
During winter months, it is more difficult and dangerous to get around;
many seniors have less contact with others. This can cause feelings of
loneliness and isolation.
Driving during the winter can be hazardous for everyone. But it is especially
dangerous for older people, who may not drive as often or whose reactions
may not be as quick.
Winter storms can lead to power outages. Backup heat sources such as using
a fireplace, gas heater or lanterns can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.
Here are some suggestions to prepare for winter and avoid accidents.
Walking on Snow and Ice
- Be sure to wear shoes with good traction and non-skid soles.
- Stay inside until the roads are clear.
- Replace a worn cane tip to making walking easier.
- Take off shoes as soon as you return indoors because often snow and ice
attach to the soles. Melted snow indoors can lead to wet slippery floors.
- Monitor indoor temperatures to make sure that it is not getting too cold.
- Dress in layers.
- If you are going outside wear warm socks, an appropriate coat, warm hat
- In extremely cold temperatures, cover all exposed skin. A scarf works well
to cover the neck and face.
Stay in Touch
- Family members can check in on seniors, a daily phone call can make a difference.
- Friends and family can arrange a schedule to check in on a regular basis.
- Basic car maintenance such as checking the oil, tires, battery and wipers
can make a difference on winter roads.
- Being prepared for roadside assistance or have a friend who you know can
help is also a good idea.
- Make sure that someone knows when you are heading out and when you are
expected to return.
- If the power goes out, wear several layers of clothing.
- Move around a lot to raise your body temperature.
- Make sure you have easy access to flashlights and a battery-powered radio.
- Keeping a stock of warm blankets, non-perishable foods and water can help
if your power goes out.
- Maintain a healthy diet, especially Vitamin D, to avoid deficiencies.
- Ensure your safety by having a carbon monoxide detector in your home or
buying an updated one.
- If you need to clear your property of snow and ice, don't hesitate
to ask a family member, neighbor, or hire a professional.
- Arrange rides to the grocery store and doctor's appointments utilizing
shuttle services specifically for seniors.
The most important tip to keep in mind during winter is to ask for help.
Wintertime poses challenges for seniors, but with planning and awareness,
you can stay healthy and avoid accidents and dangers.