As frosty snowflakes fall on your face with cozy, soft, and warm blankets covering the beautiful landscape outside your window, you feel that winters are no more than a blessing. Yes, you think of Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
However, under these sheets of frozen landscape lies a lurking danger for older adults. Visualize yourself as an aging adult dealing with unforeseen challenges like falling on icy sidewalks, winter isolation, and other health complications. In such times, you need someone to help you beat the winter blues.
On this positive note, we have compiled a list of common winter challenges for loved ones. As you continue to read, you will discover unique winter safety tips for senior loved ones. So, grab a mug of cocoa, and let’s embark on a journey where older people are safe from unique winter challenges.
As you continue reading this, you will get some practical tips to help your loved ones navigate the unique complexities of physical and mental well-being. From light housekeeping to fall prevention, let’s uncover the various ways to transform the winter season into a cherished memory.
4 Winters Challenges Your Loved One Is Dealing With
Hypothermia and Frostbite
Falling sick during the winter season is common among older people as the body loses heat and the temperature drops. As a result, an individual feels a lack of energy and is cold, resulting in pale skin. So, be aware of hypothermia symptoms like shivering, slurred speed, paleness, extreme numbness, drowsiness, and so on.
Similarly, the winter season is also the harbinger of frostbite, which damages the skin tissues due to prolonged exposure to cold. So, the nose, ears, chin, cheeks, toes, and fingers are mostly affected.
Winter Safety Tips for Seniors
- Dress up in layers to keep your body warm
- Ensure that your house is properly heated and insulated
- Don’t let your loved ones be exposed for prolonged hours in the rain or snow
- Wear warm gloves, thick socks, and hats; cover your ears to avoid frostbite
- Don’t let any part of your skin be exposed to snow for longer hours
- Encourage loved ones to do gentle indoor exercises
During winter, it gets harder for senior loved ones to do basic chores like climbing up the stairs, doing laundry, doing dishes, and so on. Similarly, icy sidewalks turn a smooth surface into treacherous terrain that affects the balance of older people. Shorter daylights result in limited or reduced visibility, hindering eyesight. This makes older adults prone to stumble and fall.
Colder temperatures lead to health complications like arthritis, osteoporosis, and other health complications that result in muscle stiffness and cardiovascular diseases.
You may not realize it yet, but the danger increases when your loved one stays alone at home. Doing household chores, laundry, dishes, maintaining the yard, and so on gets challenging in the advancing years due to limited mobility. Moreover, these health complications increase the risk of falling and accidents among older loved ones.
Follow these Winter Safety Tips:
- Buy sturdy winter footwear or boots that have good traction
- Clear walkways and driveways of snow or avoid driving at all; take small shuffling steps
- Hold onto handrails on the stairs or ramps while walking, install grab bars near stairs and bathrooms, and add enough lighting to the rooms
- Check the weather forecast before venturing out
- Encourage your loved ones to take vitamin D supplements
- Increase exposure to the sun whenever the weather permits
In the winter, older adults have limited mobility, which triggers muscle stiffness and less sweat. The body temperature changes that mute thirst signals bring down bodily senses. So, older people have a lesser fluid intake, especially when they have limited social support.
As a result of shutting down thirst signals, dehydration is a common phenomenon in older people. It raises various health complications like kidney damage, cognitive decline, injuries, cardiovascular diseases, and electrolyte imbalance.
Here is what you should do:
- Encourage your loved ones to take regular fluids—at least 8–10 glasses of water
- Avoid caffeinated or sugary drinks
- Use insulated mugs to keep drinks warm
- Use a gentle moisturizer to prevent dry skin
- Add high-water-content fruits, veggies, and soups to your loved one’s meals
- Offer them hot soups, stews, and broths for meals
During the winter, thick clouds of snow cover the land, making it hard for people to move out or visit a neighbor. Everybody is stuck inside their houses with limited communication and connection between loved ones.
Especially for older people, winters bring forth various challenges, like isolation, that haunt older people and make them fall into fear of being left out in their own families. Prolonged social isolation increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia in the long run.
Here is what you can do:
- Get online with your friends and family via video calls
- You can also get a companion caregiver to mitigate the risk of social isolation
- Find out the list of centers for older adults where your loved one can participate in social settings
- Encourage your loved ones to participate in creative activities with the caregivers
- Chat or speak to your loved ones to learn about their feelings and concerns
You cannot stop winter from boarding, but you can save your loved ones from these common yet unique challenges. Follow these winter safety tips to prevent hypothermia, frostbite, falling, dehydration, and social isolation. Access the needs of your loved ones to figure out your winterizing plans this season.
Take a step to practice these winter safety hacks this year. Don’t wait till next winter to implement this seasonal challenge.