Whether you love the cold weather or not, it is important to be prepared and safe during the winter months. For seniors, frigid temperatures can increase the risk for health problems, injuries caused by icy conditions, seasonal depression and more. To keep yourself or your aging loved one safe and healthy this winter, consider the following cold weather safety tips for seniors.
Unfortunately, winter is often a season of sickness. To reduce the spread of illness, talk to your doctor about recommended vaccines for your age group. According to the CDC, older adults over the age of 65 are at an increased risk for developing serious flu and COVID-19 complications. Getting vaccinated can protect older adults from infections and help their body fight off a potential serious illness.
Prevent Falls on Ice
With winter weather comes the possibility of snow and ice. For this reason, it’s important for seniors to keep fall prevention tips in mind to avoid falling on snow-covered grounds. If possible, avoid driving in icy road conditions. Ask a neighbor or loved one for assistance with snow removal and outdoor winter maintenance. If you must go outside, wear non-slip boots to maintain better traction on the snowy sidewalks and driveways.
To prevent illness or injury caused by cold temperatures, like hypothermia and frostbit, seniors should dress warmly during cold weather, even when indoors. Dressing in layers is an easy way to stay warm, and you can always shed clothes if you start to overheat. Wear socks or slippers around the house and cover yourself with a warm blanket at bedtime. If you must go outside, wear multiple layers of clothing that completely cover the skin, including hats, gloves, scarves, winter socks and a heavy coat. If you get damp from the ice or snow, immediately change into dry, warm clothes.
Manage Seasonal Depression
Cold temperatures and shorter days force us to spend more time indoors. As a result, it’s not uncommon for seniors to feel isolated or experience changes in their mood during this time of year. If you find yourself struggling to cope with seasonal depression, talk to your primary care provider. The best way to proactively combat the “winter blues” is to spend dedicated time with family and friends. If you live in a retirement community, try to partake in their many planned activities. If you live alone, ask family and friends to check in with you regularly so you have someone to talk to each day, whether by phone or in-person.
Prepare for Power Outages
Big winter storms can cause major power outages. If this happens, it’s important that older adults are prepared with the proper supplies to keep themselves safe, warm and comfortable until the power returns. Important safety supplies to have on hand in case of an emergency outage include extra candles, flashlights, blankets and non-perishable foods.
While cold weather can pose risks to your health and safety, it’s possible to enjoy the winter season while maintaining your health. Remember to be proactive as the winter season approaches and always ask for help if you need assistance navigating the cold weather season.