While winter is undoubtedly a time of joy – with the holidays and all the Christmas spirit – it is also a time of harsh weather, dark nights, and worsened moods.
Seniors can often feel winter more strongly than younger people do, as the weather conditions can limit their access to shops, family, and even doctors. It’s typically a time when they’re cooped up at home, afraid of harsh conditions and potential injuries, which doesn’t make for an enjoyable experience.
Here are 5 ways to help you protect the seniors in your life from winter injuries.
As we get older, we tend to lose body heat much more quickly, and we can even be unaware of how cold we actually are. This can lead to colds, pneumonia, or even hypothermia, which, in turn, can also lead to heart problems, kidney problems, or even death.
To prevent this, seniors need to dress in layers and stay as warm as possible. Remind them of the importance of wearing layers and make sure they have plenty of winter gear at the ready.
On the other hand, the cold weather and snowfall will often mean seniors are stuck in the home for long periods of time, which will have a detrimental effect on their mood and wellbeing. This makes staying healthy in the wintertime that much more of a challenge.
Moving around is crucial, especially as we get older, as is keeping our moods up and eating healthy food. Try to encourage your seniors to do what they can – exercise at home, focus on the positive aspects of winter and the bad weather, and take it as a time to recharge rather than a limiting factor.
Help them move around as much as you can by taking them out, bringing them healthy foods, and encouraging them to stay active in the house as well.
Stock up on the necessities
Stock up their cabinets with food that can last for longer periods of time (for example, canned and frozen foods) well in advance, so that you won’t have to worry in case bad weather comes along and prevents you from getting to them. Also, make sure they have plenty of drinking water, and that their medicine cabinet is stocked up not only with their prescriptions but also with anything else they might need in an emergency.
Ask their neighbors to include them in their weekly shops for the things you can’t reasonably store, like bread, fresh veggies, and fruits. That way, they won’t have to leave the house and risk falling on the ice.
Talk to them about the weather
If there’s a severe storm coming, expected to affect either them or yourself, talk to them about it and help them understand what they can and can’t reasonably do. If you expect to be cut off from them for a while, help them understand it’s due to the weather, and that there is nothing you can do about it.
Have a communications system set up in case the power or phone lines are cut off. Once again, enlist the neighbors to check in on them, just to make sure they are okay and have everything they need.
Prevent falls and potential hip fractures
Broken hips are a common injury in seniors, and they can lead to serious health complications.
To prevent them, make sure they don’t venture outside before the ice and snow have been cleared up from their preferred paths. If they are going outside, try to encourage them to have an emergency kit with them, with a bottle of water, a whistle, a flashlight, and their most urgent medications. Of course, they should also have a cellphone on them, but in case they are not quite sure how to use it, a whistle can draw the attention of passersby.
You can also install a medical alert system in the home, or have them wear an emergency bracelet that they can use to call for help if a fall does occur.
Preventing an injury or illness is often better than actually treating it. By using the above ways to help protect the seniors from winter injuries, we hope this winter will be full of fun with as little stress and worry as possible. If you do find yourself in need of a physical therapy team that can help a loved one recover from injury, please reach out to one of our partnering locations and let us help you get your 2020 back on track.