When winter arrives, it brings cold, ice and snow. While that can be fun for kids, it is often a season older adults dread. For seniors, winter can be dangerous.
Older adults are at a greater risk for injury and health issues during winter. According to the CDC, winter hazards are responsible for 63% of all weather-related deaths among seniors. Falls on ice, frostbite and hypothermia can be deadly to older adults.
It’s important to know how to keep loved ones safe.
Limit time outdoors. As we age, poor circulation can make our bodies less sensitive to temperature. When a senior ventures outdoors, they may not realize how cold it is. A senior may not be able to feel the numbness in fingers or toes that indicate it’s time to move indoors. Seniors with respiratory disease are at a higher risk of illness in extremely cold weather. Temperatures below freezing can cause serious breathing issues.
Dress warmly. Just as your aging parents had to remind you to zip your coat, you need to remind them to dress properly when they go outdoors.
Take steps to avoid winter injuries. Ice and snow create serious fall risks. Make sure porches, walkways and driveway are salted and free of snow and ice. To avoid back injury and the risk of heart attack don’t allow them to shovel. When outside, walk closely with your aging parent and have them hold your arm for stability.
Drink plenty of water. Winter can be just as dangerous as summer for dehydration. Dry, heated air can cause seniors to lose precious body fluid. Be alert to signs of dehydration. If they seem confused or especially irritated, they may not be getting enough water. Other signs include headaches, dizziness, dark urine and dry mouth.
Consider a respite stay in an assisted living community. Another option to consider when the winter winds blow, especially if you and the senior you love live a significant distance from one another, is respite care. At Governor's Pointe you can ride out the winter in a safe environment while enjoying new friendships, good food and none of the hassles of winter.