Winter Safety Tips for Seniors
Winter is certainly in full swing, and with it comes safety risks for elderly individuals. Between icy paths and freezing temperatures, it can be important to help your loved ones stay safe this Winter. Below, we will discuss important safety tips for your elderly family members this season.
Winter Slips and Falls
During the Winter, ice can create hazardous walking conditions outside. This can increase the risk of dangerous falls and injuries. Ice can affect a surface, even if they don’t see it. Make sure your loved one has sturdy shoes with good traction. Canes can also reduce fall risk.
Hypothermia and Frostbite are common health issues this time of year, especially for elderly individuals. As you age, it becomes harder for your body to regulate body temperature. This can put them at a higher risk of developing hypothermia. Frostbite occurs when parts of the body are exposed to extreme cold over a period of time. This most often affects the face and extremities. Help your loved one bundle up for the cold when they go out. Gloves, a hat, a scarf, and a winter coat can help reduce the risks of frostbite.
Hypothermia doesn’t just occur outside. Because many elderly individuals have lower extreme temperature resistance, they can sometimes experience it inside the home. To help prevent this, make sure that their thermostat is set to above 65 degrees throughout the season. If more temperature control is needed, provide them with warmer blankets, or sweaters. Space heaters can be dangerous without taking the proper precautions, and should not be used overnight.
Reduce Driving Time
Generally, elderly individuals suffer from worse vision and slower reaction times than younger adults. In the winter, this can be especially dangerous when driving. Shorter days mean fewer daylight hours for driving. Many elderly individuals struggle with driving at night, because it can be harder for them to see. Slower reaction speeds mixed with icy or snowy road conditions can put your loved ones at severe risk of a car accident. Help your loved one avoid driving during poor weather conditions, and avoid driving at night when possible.
Getting Sick in the Winter
It is more common for the elderly to get sick with colds, the flu, or COVID-19 during the Winter. Help your loved one take precautions to avoid getting sick. This may include wearing masks or staying home when they feel ill. Have them talk with their doctor about possible shots or boosters to help them limit infection. If you are feeling ill, limit your physical visits with your elderly loved ones.
Mental Health and The Winter
Many elderly individuals suffer from declining mental health as a result of isolation and the limiting factors of aging. However, in the winter, this can be even more rampant. Cold weather and shorter days mean less access to social situations which can benefit their mental health. Furthermore, Seasonal Affective Disorder (seasonal depression) can take effect. SAD is often the result of reduced Vitamin D intake, which often comes from the sun. Be sure to look for signs of depression among your elderly loved ones.
The author of this post is not a professional therapist or counselor. For assistance in finding a grief counselor that is right for you, there are several resources out there. For our Grief Resource Center, written by Dr. Bill Webster, click here.
For over 50 years, Matthew Funeral Home has been serving the Staten Island community. We can help with almost every aspect of your loved one’s memorial service. Our family is here to serve yours, every step of the way.