Welcome to winter in New England!
While we experienced a mild December, the frigid New England winter temperatures seem to have arrived. We’ve compiled some simple tips on cold weather safety to help eliminate your most pressing concerns and ensure you and your aging loved ones are safe this winter.
Prevent Slips and Falls
Always wear proper footwear, clear walkways and walk defensively. If necessary, use a walking cane to navigate snow and ice. Remember that even if there has not been a measurable snowfall, black ice can create difficult walking conditions.
Practice automobile safety
If your aging loved one drives, ask that they commit to not driving during inclement weather. Be sure cars are outfitted with proper tires, ice/snow scrapers, phone chargers and working heat. In case of emergency, throw in extra water bottles and old blankets. Prevent the real danger of carbon monoxide poisoning if warming up a car in a garage by leaving the garage door ajar.
Consider rearranging furniture to warmer areas during winter months. Eliminate drafts with plastic film window kits, insulated window shades/curtains and draft snakes. Have proper blankets and lap throws easily accessible. Remember, aging bodies have reduced sensitivity to temperature. To alleviate burn risk, be sure to set the hot water heater temperature to 120 degrees F or below and check electric blankets for auto shut off or temperature controls.
Aging skin becomes thinner and drier and more susceptible to tears, cuts and nosebleeds. To prevent these issues, keep room air moist with a humidifier or vaporizer or simply place a water-filled pan near a heat source. Keep the body moist by drinking plenty of water and fluids. Try recipes for foods with high water content like soups, fruits and vegetables. Moisturize skin with creams/lotions and lubricate nose lining and lips.
Watch for signs of the blues
Shorter days, less sunlight and fewer social gatherings can contribute to seasonal depression. Make an effort to visit with family and friends. Contact your local Council on Aging for help locating transportation services, senior centers and social activities. When the weather is too harsh for travel, pick up the phone and call a friend or relative for a chat.
Be prepared for power outages
Consider assembling a 72 hour emergency kit for emergency situations.
Whether you live near or far, have someone you can depend on to check on your aging loved one. It can be a neighbor, a friend or a licensed caregiver. It will ease everyone’s mind.