Seniors are at an increased risk for cold-weather-related accidents, injuries, and other problems. Cold temperatures and winter weather can lead to falls and even hypothermia. Follow these winter safety tips for seniors to make sure that you weather the cold and are healthy when the warmer temperatures return.
- Be Aware of the Increased Risk for Falls
While snow-covered trees and rooftops can be beautiful sights, with ice coating stairs, sidewalks, and driveways, winter also brings with it more fall risks. And it’s not just the ice. Frost can be slippery when it settles on grass or concrete, and wet boots can make floors slippery. Because it gets dark earlier, seniors with limited vision may have a harder time seeing steps and obstacles in the early evening. In addition to being aware of your surroundings and taking extra care, you should also wear shoes with nonskid soles and use hand rails when possible.
- Know Your Abilities, and Limit Outdoor Activity As Necessary
It’s a great idea to put down road salt, sand, or other products to melt ice and offer traction on sidewalks and steps. In some climates, though, that’s simply not enough. If you live in an area where snow shoveling is a necessary chore, you may want to consider investing in a snow blower or hiring someone to do the task for you. Not only is there a risk of falling while shoveling, it can also increase the risk of heart attacks. Cold weather constricts blood vessels, while the strenuous work increases heart rate. The same is true when working or exercising outdoors during winter.
- Take Action to Stay Warm
If you have to go out, dress in warm layers and wear a hat, gloves, thick socks, and boots. Cover your mouth with a scarf. When you are at home, check the temperature regularly to ensure your heating system is working properly. Seniors are naturally at an increased risk for hypothermia, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As you age, your metabolism slows, and you make less body heat than you did when you were younger. In addition, some medications and medical conditions, including arthritis, strokes, and Parkinson’s disease, can also increase your vulnerability to the cold.
- Be Prepared for Power Outages
More power outages occur during the winter than during any other season. Ice, wind, and snow knock down trees, which in turn can knock down power lines. Being prepared for an outage is the best defense. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer a winter weather checklist to make sure you have everything you need during a winter weather emergency. If the power does go out and you don’t have a backup heat source, put on several layers of clothing and contact a friend or family member who can help you relocate somewhere warmer.
As we age, it becomes more important to take the necessary precautions to ensure our health and safety. This is especially true during the winter months, when there are increased risks for seniors. By following these winter safety tips, you can help yourself stay healthy as you both enjoy the winter and anticipate the return of warm weather.