Isn’t it wonderful to live in a place that experiences four distinct seasons? People like to complain about winter, but let’s take a moment to appreciate all the lovely things about wintertime: beautiful snow that transforms the landscape, cozy fires, hot cocoa, soft sweaters and flannel pajamas, warm blankets, an excuse to eat comfort foods like beef stew and potato soup . . . Now that we’ve sung winter’s praises, it’s time to review some winter safety for seniors. For as much as we adore winter, we have to admit that the cold temperatures and tendency to hibernate can be dangerous.
Winter Safety for Seniors
Dress warmly and wear shoes with good traction.
Let’s start with an obvious tip: If you’re going outside, check the forecast and dress appropriately. Older adults lose body heat faster than younger people, so it’s especially important to dress warmly in winter in your sunset years. If the temperature is below freezing, consider wearing thermal underwear beneath your typical outfit, and be sure to add a coat, scarf, hat, and gloves on top. Wear merino wool socks, which are warm and cozy but wick away sweat, and select winter-ready shoes with good traction.
Ask for help when you need it.
Many people have a tendency to try to do everything on their own. Not only is this impractical, but also it’s unsafe. So if you need to shovel your driveway or walkway, consider asking a younger family member, friend, or neighbor for help. You might also need to ask for help with basic things like grocery shopping before a blizzard or moving shopping bags from your car to your home. Chances are, the person you ask will be happy to help. You might even make a new friend in the process!
Avoid slippery situations.
Ice, snow, and sleet can create perilous conditions for walking and driving. If you know that walkways and streets are slippery, try to stay home if you can. If you do need to go out, follow these tips:
- Wear shoes with non-skid soles.
- Be careful on wet pavements, which could be iced over.
- Salt your walkway and driveway before winter storms.
- Hire someone to clear away snow from your walkway and driveway.
- If you use a cane, be sure that the rubber tip hasn’t worn down and become smooth. You could also add an ice tip to your cane, like this one from Amazon.
- Schedule an inspection for your car before bad weather hits.
- Never drive without a cell phone.
- Stock your car with an emergency kit in case bad weather hits.
Warm up with caution.
When it’s cold outside, many people choose to warm up inside using a fireplace, a space heater, or devices that run on fuels like natural gas or kerosene. With all of these devices, it’s important that you keep them well maintained, cleaned, and properly vented so that they don’t create a harmful (or even deadly) situation. In addition, keep space heaters at least three feet away from anything that might catch on fire (curtains, bedding, furniture, etc.). If you aren’t careful, you could cause a fire or a gas leak.
Beware of hypothermia.
If your body temperature gets too low (below 95 degrees Fahrenheit), you will suffer from hypothermia, which can cause health problems, including liver damage, kidney damage, or even a heart attack. So whether you’re inside or outside this winter, be sure that you’re dressing appropriately and keep the thermostat set at a reasonable temperature (at least 68 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the National Institute on Aging).
Sometimes it’s tempting to ignore the weather forecast, risk fate on a slippery walkway, or set your thermostat low to save money on heat, but it’s best to be cautious, especially if you’re getting a little older. Winter safety for seniors is no joke. So stay warm, and enjoy this calm and cozy season!
At Springhouse Village, we know how important it is to enjoy your retirement in a lively and welcoming environment. We make it easy for our residents to be active participants in our community. Whether that means encouraging residents to shop at local farmers markets or assisting them in starting a garden club, we strive to help our residents thrive. To learn more about the amenities and services we offer, contact Springhouse Village today.