Winter can be a wonderful time of year, with celebrations and time with family. It can also be a time of severe winter weather. For older adults, it can be an especially dangerous time of the year. At VMT Home Health Agency, we want to ensure that seniors in our community enjoy healthy, happy lives throughout the year. Let’s look at some of the common winter hazards that winter poses for seniors and what you can do to make the season a little safer.
Health Risks in Winter
Winter can be a challenging time for anyone’s health, especially seniors. Some health-related winter risks for seniors include,
- Higher risk of flu and other respiratory illnesses
- Risk of hypothermia if the temperature in the home drops too low
- Dehydration from lack of water
- Dry skin and winter itch from dry, itchy skin
You and your senior loved one can reduce these risks with a few simple changes.
- Stay on top of seasonal vaccines and maintain a healthy diet. If your loved one is high-risk for respiratory illness, it is a good idea for them to wear a mask when out in public. Likewise, if family members show symptoms of a cold, flu, or COVID, they should stay home until they’re symptom-free (or test negative in the case of COVID).
- Ensure the house stays warm by keeping the thermostat no lower than 65 degrees throughout the day.
- Drink plenty of water (4-5 glasses a day), even if they don’t feel as thirsty as they usually do.
- Use protective lotion on the skin and wear gloves when out to help keep the skin from drying and flaking.
Home and Community Risks in Winter
Safety concerns can also arise for seniors during the winter months. Some key risks for seniors include,
- Higher risks of falling on icy streets and walkways
- House fires or carbon monoxide poisoning from heaters
- Falling in the home due to dim lighting
- Injury from strenuous activities
- Complications to home emergencies due to winter weather
It’s always a good idea to plan for your loved one’s safety during the winter. Home care assistance in Washington, DC can help keep seniors safer in their homes, whether through an agency like VMT or through a family-member caregiver. Some things you can do to make the home and community safe for your loved one include,
- Be aware of weather and ice conditions outdoors, and take extra precautions if your loved one needs to go outside in icy weather. If they use a mobility device, ensure that it has fresh tips and make sure they have comfortable non-slip shoes.
- Ensure that fire and carbon monoxide detectors have fresh batteries. In addition, make sure that your loved one uses proper heaters for their home and that space heaters and fireplaces have adequate clearance from flammable items.
- Since it gets darker earlier in the winter, ensure rooms have adequate lighting and that clutter, and other obstacles don’t impede movement.
- Ensure that your loved one avoids strenuous activity, like shoveling snow. If their doctor feels that activity level is healthy for them, ensure that they stretch before they begin to avoid muscle injuries or strain.
- Make sure that your loved one has a cell phone and keeps battery packs charged in case of power outages. This ensures that they can keep their phone charged and call 911 if they have an emergency. You should also establish a plan of action in inclement winter weather to ensure that you can check on your loved one and ensure that they’re safe and warm.
Are You Looking for Home Care Assistance in Washington, DC?
VMT Home Health Agency offers home care assistance for Washington, DC seniors. Contact us for a consultation and to learn more about our services.