Winter is just around the corner, so those taking care of elderly individuals need to start thinking about the steps they need to take to ensure the safety and health of their loved ones once the really cold weather hits.
Start with the home
Seniors are more susceptible to cold weather than many others, in large part due to circulatory issues that are common as people age. Thus, it’s important that the residences of elderly ones are kept as warm as possible. Now is the time to:
- Avoid drafts by checking for and sealing any cracks in walls, windows, windowsills, or doors. If you have a fireplace, make sure that the flue is closed; if the fireplace is not used, you may want to invest in a flue pillow to help keep more heat in the house.
- If you have storm windows, take them out of the attic and install them.
- Make sure your attic has proper insulation; a great deal of warm air leaves the house through uninsulated attics.
- Ensure that the heating system has been checked and prepped for winter use.
- If you have ceiling fans, put them in reverse mode. Running them clockwise will blow warm, heated air back down.
Get clothes ready
- If you haven’t done so already, bring down the winter coats, sweaters, and other warm pieces of clothing. so that they’re handy when that first really cold snap comes along.
- Inspect winter clothes to make sure they’re in good shape. Missing buttons or broken zippers mean that clothes can’t close properly, and will let body heat out and cold air in.
- Dressing in layers is usually a better idea than wearing something heavy and bulky, even though getting dressed may require more time and effort.
- If you’re taking care of elderly people, make sure that they wear hats and gloves when outdoors. Indoors, a scarf or light sweater may be a good idea.
Bring out the outdoor supplies
- If you live in an area with snow or ice, move the snow shovel to a convenient, accessible location.
- Make sure that you have plenty of salt or other ice-melting ingredients on hand. The last thing a senior needs is a nasty spill on the sidewalk.
- If you are taking care of elderly loved ones and your front steps do not have a railing, see if you can set up a temporary one. Securely tying a rope from a column or rail on the porch to a pole securely planted in the ground at the base of the stairs is an option; however, make sure that the rope and the supports to which it is tied are very securely fastened.
Taking care of elderly patients requires thoughtful planning; these tips can give you a head start on making this winter season safe and warm.