The cold winter months are difficult for everyone, but especially for older adults. The freezing air and slippery roads create hazardous situations for vulnerable bodies. Here are 6 tips to keep them safe during winter.
1. Bundle Up
Older adults are more susceptible to hypothermia, which is why it’s essential to wear warm layers, thick socks, a heavy coat, mittens, a hat, and a scarf whenever they go outside. Ensuring your whole body is covered with warm articles of clothing will help prevent your body temperature from dropping when going out.
In especially cold weather, use a scarf to cover your mouth and nose to protect your lungs and wear non-slip footwear to prevent slipping.
2. Be Mindful to Prevent Slips and Falls
Winter is the easiest time to slip and fall, so wearing proper shoes is essential. The best way to avoid slipping is to wear non-slip boots with good traction, take wide and small steps, and keep hands out of pockets. If you use a cane, make sure the rubber at the bottom is in good condition.
3. Take Precautions to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning and Fires
If you use a fireplace or gas heaters, make sure they’re properly vented and cleaned; otherwise, they can produce a toxic amount of carbon monoxide. Installing a carbon monoxide detector will give you peace of mind about breathing in clean air.
If you plan on using your fireplace, schedule an appointment for an inspection before doing so to ensure it won’t create a fire or toxic fumes.
With winter comes the holiday season, which means Christmas trees, Chanukah candles, and decorative lights, all of which are potential fire starters. Make sure to install and test that your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are in working order. If this is difficult for you, don’t hesitate to ask for help.
4. Prepare for Extreme Weather
From heavy rains to snowy weather, it’s important to be prepared and know what you’re able and unable to do. Because of the cold weather, your heart works twice as hard to keep you warm, so strenuous activities can be dangerous. Consult your doctor before doing outdoor activities like shoveling snow.
Heavy winds and rain can create power outages; make sure to have easy access to a kit for those situations. The kit should contain a flashlight, extra batteries, a battery-powered radio, warm blankets, water, nonperishable food, and any medication you might need.
5. Eat Nutritious Meals
It’s always important to eat a healthy balanced meal, especially in the winter. The lack of sun and outdoor activities puts you at increased risk for a vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is essential to keep bones, teeth, and muscles strong and healthy. Take vitamins or eat vitamin D rich foods such as oily fish, milk, egg yolks, and red meat.
6. Cope with the Winter Blues
Stormy weather and being trapped inside can make anyone depressed. Keeping your spirits high can be a bit difficult in the winter, but making sure you stay social and active can help your mood.
Plan zoom meetings or socially distance visits with family and friends or give a loved one a call. Staying social will help fight the feeling of loneliness.
The lack of vitamin D from the sun can also affect your mood; consider purchasing a lightbox (Miroco Light Therapy Lamp).
With proper planning, wintertime can still be a cheerful time for older adults. By taking the right precautions and accepting help from neighbors, friends, and family will keep you safe and happy throughout the winter.
If you’re a senior citizen and a New Jersey resident and you think you may have been in contact with someone infected with COVID-19 or start to experience symptoms, please call Clare Medical of New Jersey at (609) 474-0120. Medical providers equipped with protective gear will come to your home, test you for COVID-19, and provide the appropriate treatment.