At all times it’s important to ensure the safety and health of our elderly loved ones. Wintertime, though, presents a unique challenge. Colder, gloomier weather, a busy holiday season, and extended periods without leaving the house have the potential to take a toll on Mom and Dad.
Here are a few tips for keeping your loved ones safe during the winter:
Snow and rain can make walks outside more hazardous than usual. When the sidewalks are slick with ice, seniors have a higher chance of falling. Be sure to shovel any snow and use sand or salt on stairs and walkways your loved ones may traverse. If possible, offer to drive your parents to any areas they would normally walk.
Neighbors can also be a helpful resource if your friends and family are not able to assist with snow or ice removal. You may also want to consider a paid service, which can help plow or shovel snow from your loved ones’ walkways and driveways.
Encourage your loved one to wear shoes with good traction and non-slip soles. If your father walks with a cane, make sure the tip is intact and has traction. If your mother uses a walker, make sure it is secure and has operating brakes and grips.
Always bring a coat
Chilled temperatures require an extra layer, even indoors. As we age, our bodies produce less body heat, leaving us at an increased risk for hypothermia. For that reason, it is important to keep your loved one’s room on the warmer side. An extra sweater, a lap blanket, or a thick pair of socks can also help stave off any indoor chills.
When traveling outdoors, seniors should be sure to wear a thick coat, a hat, and gloves. If your loved one has a hard time staying warm, you may want to add an extra layer or a scarf.
With cold temperatures, you also want to ensure your loved one is drinking enough water. Cold temperatures cause our bodies to work harder to stay warm, extra layers may cause us to sweat at times, and dry air can cause us to become dehydrated. An extra glass of water or two can help your loved one stay happy and healthy.
Holidays are a happy time with many memories and joyful occasions, but can also strain your elderly loved one. With family gatherings being a staple of the season, be sure not to overwhelm Mom and Dad with too much. Talk with your parents before the holiday season to gauge how they are feeling about it. Listen to their needs and see if there is a way to accommodate them with whatever plans have already been made.
Large family gatherings with many parties can overwhelm people used to being alone or with only a few people at a time. Be sure to check in on your loved one or have a family member be a guide for them, to assure they are being cared for and attended to. If they are willing, have your loved one participate in any games or storytelling.
On the opposite end, leaving your parent alone for too long can also cause harm. It’s important for seniors to stay social. Senior isolation and depression are more common in the winter months. As treacherous weather can cause fewer people to visit.
Visit your elderly loved ones often, or, if not possible, call or write them frequently. When we are left alone, we tend to feel forgotten or undervalued. By showing that you care enough to call or visit, you can help keep spirits up.
When our parents feel safe and secure, it can add so much to their overall quality of life. Helping your parents navigate the darker months will show them you care, and in turn, they will feel a sense of worth and importance.