The winter months bring lots of challenges to the elderly. Ice, snow and cold weather can drastically increase the chances of falls and illnesses.
With this current cold snap showing no sign of ceasing , here is some helpful advice for preventing common winter dangers that the elderly face.
Avoid Slipping on Ice
Icy, frosty roads and pavements make it easy to slip and fall, and unfortunately, falls are a common occurrence for senior citizens, especially during the winter months. Often these falls can cause major injuries such as hip and wrist fractures that lead to stays in hospital as older adults take longer to recover from such injuries and can face complications.
Make sure your loved ones wear shoes with good traction and non-skid soles, and stay inside until the pavements have thawed ( you can keep a mixture of salt and sand handy to melt icy pavements, driveways and patios). Replace worn walking stick tips to making walking easier. Take off shoes as soon as you return indoors because often snow and ice attach to the soles and, once melted, can lead to slippery conditions inside.
Dress for Warmth
Cold temperatures can lead to frostbite and hypothermia – a condition where the body temperature dips too low. According to recent research more than half of hypothermia-related deaths were of people over the age of 65.
Ensure that they don’t let indoor temperatures go too low and dress in layers. Make sure the heating is on, that they are drinking plenty of hot drinks and are eating hot meals. If in doubt purchase a hot water bottled, and encourage them to dress in plenty of warm layers. Going outside? Wear warm socks, a heavy coat, a warm hat, gloves and a scarf. In very cold temperatures, cover all exposed skin. Use a scarf to cover your mouth and protect your lungs.
Your body temperature should never dip below 95 degrees.
Fight Wintertime Depression
Because it can be difficult and dangerous to get around, many seniors have less contact with others during cold months. This can breed feelings of loneliness and isolation.
To help avoid these issues, family members can check in on seniors as often as possible; even a short, daily phone call can make a big difference. Seniors can also arrange a check-in system with neighbours and friends, where each person looks in on one or two others daily. Alternatively you can employ a reputable care agency to check in, have a cup of tea and cook them a warm meal to give them some company.
Other precautions you can take to ensure your elderly loved ones remain healthy, safe and warm this winter include:
- Follow up your GP’s invitation to have a flu jab.
- Order repeat prescriptions in plenty of time, particularly if bad weather is forecast.
- Ask your local pharmacy if they offer a prescription pick-up and delivery service.
- Keep a list of emergency numbers, such as your utility companies, by your phone.
- Keep a torch handy in case you lose power and keep your radio, mobile phone, laptop or tablet fully charged, so you can use the battery power if there’s no electricity. If there is a power cut you can call 105 for free. You’ll be put through to your local network operator who can give you help and advice.
- Keep basic food items in the cupboard or freezer in case it’s too cold to go shopping. You could also do your food shopping online and get it delivered to your door.
- Eat healthily and keep as active as possible.