While the holiday season is one of excitement and joy for many people, it can be a challenging and sometimes dangerous season for aging seniors. A simple walk to the mailbox can turn treacherous thanks to slippery sidewalks, and cold, dark and overcast days can trigger depression while increasing sense of isolation.
Keeping your loved ones safe, warm, and upbeat during this winter season can be done with just a bit of planning. Here are six ways to help your aging senior thrive during the winter months.
Prepare for extremes-
One of the best ways to give you and your loved one peace of mind is to prepare for extreme weather. Have a plan to stay in contact if the power should go out, check flash lights and have a supply of water and non-perishable food on hand. Consider installing a generator as a backup power source, especially if they rely on health monitors or other devices for daily care.
Eliminate Fire Risks–
While it’s important to have an alternative heat source if power goes out, space heaters can create a major risk for fires. It’s important to check them from year to year for frayed cords or loose parts. Position heaters away from blankets, drapes, or furniture that can ignite, and ensure that cords are out of the way to avoid a tripping hazard.
Always be sure that your loved one doesn’t resort to turning on the oven as a heat source or rely on candles for light. Battery operated lanterns and flashlights are a better alternative.
Venturing Out –
Getting out and staying active is good advice for any age group; just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean your aging family member shouldn’t go out. Help them plan their cold weather wardrobe, including long underwear and light layering pieces such as a fleece jacket.
If your senior still drives during the winter months, help them stock their vehicle with a blanket, flashlight, ice scraper, and some non-clumping kitty litter.
Navigating an icy sidewalk can be extremely dangerous for seniors. Ensure they are stocked up with an ice melting solution, such as salt or other products designed to dissolve snow. You may even hire a snow removal company or local handyman to clear walks and driveways if necessary.
As you check over their winter wardrobe, make sure they have slip proof shoes or pull-on cleats to give them better traction and stability in the snow and ice.
Changing Nutrition –
Most of us turn to comfort food as the weather turns cold. For many seniors, cooking a hot meal is difficult or seems like too much trouble. You can help them plan meals, prepare freezer meals that only need reheating, or sign them up for a meal delivery service.
Longer nights mean less sunlight, which means less Vitamin D – which can lead to feeling lethargic, depression and at a higher risk for illness. Food such as fatty fish and egg yolks are high in Vitamin D. Your loved one should also discuss a Vitamin D supplement with their doctor.
Depression and Isolation –
Many seniors will opt to stay in during cold temps and snow conditions, but days on end of being housebound can lead to feelings of isolation and depression. Check in frequently with your aging loved one and encourage them to stay in touch with friends and family via phone or internet. A short video chat can boost their spirits. If you live too far away to drop by frequently, enlist the help of another family member or find a home visit service.
These are just a few of the ways to brighten those cold, gray winter days. With some planning and preparation, winter can be safe, comfortable, and enjoyable. For more information that specializes on Senior Citizens, please visit www.harmonymoves.com and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.