Older adults experience a higher risk of health problems and injury during the winter months. It’s important to be aware of potential issues and take steps to prevent them.
Social Isolation – Fear of driving or reluctance to brave snow and ice can keep older adults at home. Errands are put off and social activities decrease.
- Visit or take your loved one to church, to visit family or to a senior center.
- Pick up groceries or prescriptions.
- Call frequently, especially before or after a winter storm
Falls – A fall can be devastating with serious initial injuries or subsequent complications.
- Wear shoes with non-skid soles
- Replace worn cane tips. There are icepick-like attachments that can be added to the end of a cane.
- Use door mats to prevent snow and ice from being tracked inside. Immediately remove shoes after coming indoors.
- Remove ice and snow from paths.
Driving- Adults 65 and older are involved in more car accidents per mile driven than most other age groups.
- Complete all scheduled car maintenance.
- Stock the car with emergency supplies; including extra clothes and blankets, food and water, flashlight, booster cables, first aid kit, shovel, scraper and salt, sand or cat litter.
- Remember to take a charged cell phone.
Fire and Carbon Monoxide Poisoning –Heat sources can cause fires or carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Clean and inspect chimneys.
- Crack a window when using a kerosene stove.
- Use smoke and carbon monoxide detectors with working
- Keep space heaters at least 3 feet away from anything flammable, like bedding or curtains.
- Have easily accessible and working fire extinguishers.
Frostbite and hypothermia – Seniors make less body heat because of slower metabolism and less frequent physical activity.
- Know the signs of frostbite and hypothermia; shivering, cold skin that is pale or ashy, for people with darker skin, skin may look grayish-yellow, numbness, feeling very tired or weak, confused and sleepy, slower breathing or heart rate.
- Older adults tend to shiver less or not at all, don’t rely on shivering as the only warning sign of hyperthermia.
- People with heart disease and circulation problems get frostbite more easily.
- Call 911 if you think someone has hypothermia or is suffering frostbite.