Safety Precautions for Seniors

We are coming into “winter season” , which may represent sparkling snow, holiday decorations and cozy nights by the fire with a mug of hot chocolate.  However, for many seniors the winter season means weeks and months of cold weather, black ice, and piles of snow.   Colder temperatures can present safety challenges, especially for older adults. This year has already seen the freakish “Halloween Eve” storm in the Northeast, with seniors sheltering in high school gyms and fire stations during power outages that lasted for days and even weeks.

While many in the northeast are enjoying seasonally temperate weather, it is important to be aware of seasonal hazards brought on by normal cold, winter weather:

Hypothermia.  Exposure to cold may result in a dangerous drop in body temperature. Common health conditions and some medications raise the risk for seniors.

Increased risk of falls.  Slipping on icy steps or a snowy walkway can result in serious injury.  This can be extremely treacherous.

Carbon monoxide illness or fire from improperly used space heaters or generators.  These devices can be dangerous when incorrectly installed and operated.  I just had a space heater spark and burn a small hole in a rug in my home!

Seasonal depression.  Many seniors become completely housebound.  They never leave their home unless escorted to doctor appointments.  Inactivity and isolation may result when cold weather means fewer opportunities for exercise and social contact.

If your senior loved ones live in a climate where winter storms and cold weather occur, take steps to keep them safe. Winterize their home, check heating systems and help them prepare for weather-related emergencies. If loved ones drive, help prepare an emergency kit for the car. Educate yourself and your loved ones about the symptoms of hypothermia.

When family members can’t be there to help elderly relatives, it’s important to have a backup.  For many families, in-home care provides the extra measure of security to keep loved ones and family safe and comfortable – in any season.