Cold-weather season can be a wonderful time of year. It brings to mind crackling flames in the fireplace, getting cozy with a blanket and warm cup of hot chocolate, visiting with family and friends, and happy memories of past holiday seasons. But along with the good things, there are some challenges that come with colder temperatures as well.
Most everyone is affected by these risks in cold weather, but the threat of danger is especially high for senior citizens. Elderly people living on their own are already faced with challenges and often need extra care from family members. In the threat of extreme cold conditions, those challenges become even greater. It may be harder or even impossible for family caregivers to reach their loved ones due to icy roads or winter storm conditions, leaving them stranded.
This can be scary for the senior adult! Falls are more likely due to icy sidewalks, and the elderly are at higher risk for hypothermia due to exposure to cold weather. The likelihood of these potential problems increases with power outages due to snow or ice storms. Life during the winter months can be very difficult, which is why it is best to start preparing sooner rather than later to keep them safe!
Being part of an assisted living community like Regency can help bring your older loved ones (and you) peace of mind during dangerous times of the year. At Regency, we have emergency systems in place to ensure the safety of our residents, should outside conditions threaten. In addition to emergency supplies of food and water, we have maintenance crews on hand to keep everything working. We offer transportation so you don’t have to worry about your elderly loved ones trying to drive in bad weather. And we have regular doctor visits and nurses on site to monitor their physical health.
We understand that not everyone can be part of an assisted living community, so here are some ways you can prepare your aging relatives’ homes for the approaching winter:
- Make sure they have a charged cell phone readily available at all times. If land lines go down, you want to be sure they are able to contact you or vice versa.
- Ask a close neighbor to check in on them. If you are unable to drive the distance to see your relatives due to icy weather or white-out conditions, you’ll have the confidence that someone is able to make sure your relative is safe.
- Check the heating systems, fire places, or portable heaters. See that they are working and properly ventilated so your loved one can stay warm without a fire hazard.
- Consider closing off the unneeded rooms in their house. Cover the windows in those rooms and plug the cracks under the doors to those rooms with towels to prevent heat from escaping.
- Prepare a list of contact information to the local police and fire departments and keep it by the phone so they can access it easily in case of an emergency.
- Be aware of all weather reports. Keep a weather radio and extra batteries handy so you do not miss any special alerts or warnings.
- Make sure they have extra warm clothing to layer, as well as blankets to keep warm.
- Prepare an emergency supply of food, water, and medications in the home, several days worth, in case you get stranded and cannot get to them to bring extra food or meds from the pharmacy. The Red Cross recommends foods that provide lots of energy and require no cooking, such as nuts, granola bars, and dried fruit.
Senior adults are more susceptible to problems that come with cold weather, but we can be comforted by the knowledge that Regency can keep them safe and active. For anyone who has an aging relative who is not yet part of a community like Regency, we hope these ideas can help you in preparing homes for winter.