Winter safety tips for seniors

Many of the seasonal changes that can be inconvenient for the majority of us can pose more of a risk for the elderly. Cold temperatures, slippery surfaces and potential power outages can be dangerous for older people. That’s why we’ve put together a list of winter safety tips for seniors to help you keep your loved ones well during the colder months.

As ever, prevention is better than cure, and being prepared is the best way to protect against accidents and sickness. Encouraging the elderly to adapt their routine and take extra precautions during the colder months can mean fewer long-term effects from a fall or condition that limits independence.

Get vaccinated

Booking appointments for the flu jab and a coronavirus booster are effective ways to get a headstart on respiratory viruses that can be a greater risk in winter. Many seniors are also entitled to vaccinations against pneumonia and shingles, so support your relative by finding out if they qualify.

Protect against germs

Make it as easy as possible for your elderly loved one to wash their hands or use hand sanitiser. As we all learned during the pandemic, it’s important to protect ourselves against the spread of germs. If you’re taking them out, then encourage them to wear a mask and consider one for yourself when visiting if they’re particularly vulnerable.

Devise a warmth plan

When you step inside a care home you always find they’re kept cosy and it’s important for anyone staying living in their own property to maintain a steady temperature of around 18°C. This can be difficult if the house is particularly large or lacks double glazing. Maximise heat by putting down rugs, closing off unused rooms and keeping curtains closed.

Stock up on supplies

Keep the house well supplied with food, bottled water, medication and warm clothes in case bad weather makes it difficult to go out for provisions. Having enough to keep going can ensure an elderly loved one isn’t tempted to leave the house in snow or icy conditions and risk injuring themselves.

Take note of conditions worsened by the cold

There are a number of health conditions that can be exacerbated by the cold, including heart attacks, strokes and hypothermia. Being aware of the risks and keeping a lookout for the signs is vital, as quick medical attention can improve the outcome. The symptoms of arthritis and Raynaud’s phenomenon are both reportedly worse in winter, so protecting hands and feet from the cold could be prioritised.

Stay mobile

Many of the simple activities that seniors use to stay mobile throughout the rest of the year become more difficult in the winter months. As a result, loved ones can go for fewer walks or refrain from attending exercise classes. Encourage them to move around to ensure they don’t lose any of their mobility, while it’ll also help them to stay warm.

Top up on vitamin D

The NHS states that adults need ten micrograms of vitamin D a day and that from March to September this is mainly achieved through direct contact from sunlight with the skin. While some foods, such as red meat, oily fish and egg yolks contain the vital nutrient, most adults should take a supplement in the winter months.

Keep up with household maintenance

Household repairs that have been put off earlier in the year can suddenly become a problem when they let in cold or water. Making sure everything is working well, including the boiler, can prevent accidents or a temptation to apply a quick fix as opposed to getting work done properly. In the aftermath of any storms, it’s important to check for damage.

Join the Priority Services Register

Anyone who has reached the state pension age; needs medical equipment that requires a power supply; or would struggle to answer the door or get help in an emergency is eligible to join the Priority Services Register. It means they’ll be offered additional support from their energy, water and telecoms suppliers.

Open lines of communication

Loneliness can be worse in the colder months, especially when the weather’s bad and days are darker. Checking in with elderly relatives more regularly can help combat this and also give them the opportunity to express any concerns they have. Leaving your phone number on a piece of paper next to the landline will encourage them to call you, as opposed to having to find it, as many seniors find mobile phones difficult to navigate.

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