When “the weather outside is frightful” during wintertime, all of us, but particularly seniors, need to exercise caution. Despite the silent beauty of falling snow, we sometimes underestimate its capacity to do us harm, particularly when accompanied by low temperatures and ice.
The key is to be prepared and cautious when facing risky weather-related conditions. Thinking ahead can prevent hypothermia, frostbite, bodily injuries, fires and more. Following are tips to help older persons be safe and secure until spring arrives.
Staying warm may be more difficult for seniors with conditions including hypothyroidism, heart disease, stroke, arthritis, Parkinson’s disease and diabetes. Certain medications, as well as alcohol, also can make them more vulnerable to cold temperatures. To reduce risk of hypothermia and frostbite:
- Dress warmly in layers and wear a cap, gloves, warm socks and boots. In frigid temperatures, cover all skin with a scarf to cover your mouth and protect your lungs.
- Go indoors if you begin shivering, which is generally the first symptom of mild hypothermia.
- Consume hot meals and warm drinks to keep your body temperature up.
According to the National Council on Aging, of adults over 65 who fall, 25-30 percent suffer a severe injury such as a hip fracture or head injury. To decrease chances of falling:
- Assume that all wet, dark areas on pavements are slippery ice patches.
- Wear shoes or boots that provide traction (not smooth soles or heels).
- Use the car for support when entering or exiting it.
- Walk on designated walkways, rather than taking short-cuts.
The National Fire Protection Association says that people age 65 and over are twice as likely to be killed or injured by fires than the population at large. To limit the risk of fires:
- Have chimneys and flues cleaned as needed and inspected annually, along with the furnace.
- Use smoke detectors on all floors and carbon monoxide detectors in areas where fuels are used.
- Place space heaters at least three feet from materials, furniture or other flammable items.
- Monitor lit candles. Use battery-powered ones to prevent fire risk.
- Keep a fire extinguisher handy and know how to use it.
While all seniors should practice caution and safety during the winter months, residents of retirement homes have a distinct advantage in terms of reducing winter-related risks. That’s just one reason that retirees decide to move to an independent living retirement community or to a personal care or assisted living home.
At Country Meadows Retirement Communities, we know that our residents can’t be homebound by slippery sidewalks, steps, driveways and parking lots. Trips to the grocery store, doctor’s appointments and family visits are as important during winter as they are in warmer months. So, our dedicated maintenance staff prioritizes de-icing, shoveling, snow blowing and plowing for quick, thorough removal of snow and ice. And we also provide transportation for errands and doctor’s appointments for those residents who choose not to drive themselves.
At Country Meadows, the safety and health of our residents are at the heart of our services to members of our family-like senior community. If you are planning on choosing a Maryland or Pennsylvania retirement home, we would like to meet and talk with you about all that our caring community can offer you or your loved one.