Falling is an issue for seniors in any type of weather but particularly when sidewalks are icy. Seniors are more prone to breaking bones and can end up with major injuries and even head trauma. To reduce the risk of a fall, seniors should try to stay indoors until sidewalks and roads are clear. When walking outside, shoes with non-skid soles should be worn. Traction devices that attached to the shoe can also be used. Be sure that shoes are removed when returning inside to avoid tracking in water which would make the floor slippery.
It may be time to let someone else do the chore of shoveling snow. Not only is this another opportunity to slip and fall, shoveling snow is hard work which can put too much strain on the heart. Consider hiring a neighborhood teenager or a professional.
Avoid Fires and Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Using the fireplace, kerosene heaters, and electric space heaters increase the risk of fire and carbon monoxide poisoning. To reduce this risk, make sure these items are properly ventilated and that space heaters are at least three feet away from flammable materials such as clothing, bedding, and curtains. Be sure that smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are in good working order and that a fire extinguisher is on hand.
Be prepared with extra blankets and flashlights for power outages. Make sure that flashlights have working batteries and are easily accessible. Also, have a plan to for a prolonged outage such as going to stay with a friend or relative who lives in a different area that may not have been impacted.
Elderly people may have difficulty feeling when the temperature is too low because they produce less body heat. The result can be a dangerous drop in body temperature causing hypothermia. During cold weather, time outside should be limited and the inside temperature should not be set below 65 degrees. Dressing in layers keeps the body warmer than dressing in one heavy layer. Wearing a hat, even while inside, will reduce the amount of heat the body loses. When outside, a hat is a must along with gloves and a scarf. Staying dry is also crucial. Extreme cold or dampness can lead to frostbite. Toes and fingers are particularly susceptible. People with circulatory problems are at a higher risk.
Stave off Depression
Not all of the dangers of winter are physical. Being less able to get out, leads to isolation and loneliness which in turn leads to depression. This is the time when visits from friends and loved ones are most appreciated. Frequent phone calls are not only a pick-me-up, but also are an opportunity to check that the people you care about are taken care of during the winter season.