Ice, snow, and cold temperatures make the winter months tough for everyone. But for older adults, the winter months can be particularly dangerous. Stay safe this season with these cold weather safety tips for seniors.
Winter’s bitterly cold temperatures put seniors at risk for hypothermia, which occurs when one’s body temperature drops to dangerously low levels. Older adults lose body heat fast, and certain medical conditions may make seniors more vulnerable to hypothermia. If you’re planning on going outdoors, be sure to dress warmly. Hypothermia can also occur indoors, so be sure your thermostat is set to 68 degrees or higher in the colder months.
Preparing the car
Ice and snow make driving difficult for anyone, but driving in winter conditions can be especially dangerous for older adults due to changes in their vision and reflexes. Avoid driving in icy or snowy conditions, and if you must drive, take caution. During the winter, it’s a good idea to keep your car stocked with emergency supplies such as a first aid kit, blankets, a flashlight, water, and food in case your vehicle is stranded. Many senior living communities offer transportation services that eliminate the stress of winter driving and help older adults stay safe on the roads.
Fighting the “wintertime blues”
Many people experience a decrease in their energy and mood during the winter months. This phenomenon is called seasonal affective disorder and is caused by a decrease in daytime light in winter. Exposure to natural light can help prevent and fight these feelings. During the day, make sure your curtains or blinds are open to let natural light in.
Avoiding slips and falls
In icy or snowy conditions, it’s easy for anyone to slip and fall. However, even minor falls can be dangerous for older adults. When walking outdoors, beware of icy parking lots, sidewalks, and driveways. It’s a good idea to invest in non-skid shoes or boots to prevent falls. Rest assured that in today’s senior living communities, winter safety is a top priority. Most communities have a dedicated maintenance staff to clear walkways of dangerous snow and ice to keep residents safe.