When winter approaches, it can make things more challenging for seniors and caregivers. The colder temperatures, icy grounds, and harsher driving conditions increase the risks of hypothermia, falls, and accidents.
While the best protection from the cold is to keep your loved one indoors, this isn’t always a solution. Eventually, they may need to go to the grocery store, church, or a doctor’s appointment.
Fortunately, there are many precautions you may take to help keep you, and your senior loved one safe.
The Kensington White Plains has put together a list of winter tips for caregivers to help you and your loved one through the winter months.
The challenges that winter brings
Though the holiday season is joyful and fun, there are parts of it that can be scary. While you and your senior loved one are traveling to gather with family and friends, there are things you must consider.
Knowing what to expect will help you plan, prepare and remain safe.
Nasty storms, and heavy snowfalls can be hard on seniors, especially those who live alone. Harsh weather can lead to power outages. As a result, caregivers must make sure their senior loved ones are prepared. It’s helpful to create an emergency plan in that case. Assign someone who can get to your loved one quicker in the event of bad road conditions.
Illness and Flu Season
Seniors are more likely to get very sick from viruses, including the flu and COVID-19. This means they could need hospitalization, intensive care, and ventilators to help them breathe. Caregivers should take the proper precautions when going out in public, by wearing masks and sanitizing their hands.
The coldest months of the year lead to slippery roads, black ice, and snowfall. Driving conditions become more dangerous and frightening. Make sure your loved one always has a safe way to travel if they must.
Increased Risk of Falls
The snow and ice lead to an increased risk of falls in seniors. Keeping steps and paths cleared and salted helps to prevent slipping.
Seniors with decreased sensation in their feet due to diabetes, arthritis, and poor circulation and those on medication that makes them dizzy will need the most help walking outside.
If there is a heavy enough snowfall, you may become trapped at home. If this happens, it will make it more difficult or impossible to get to your senior. If your senior loved one requires daily assistance with medication administration, meal preparation or more, transitioning them to a community setting could ease their worries and yours.
5 Winter tips to help caregivers stay prepared
With all of the challenges a caregiver must face during the winter months, remember these tips to help overcome them.
1. Stay Ahead of the Weather
The most crucial thing you can do is stay informed.
Watch the news to know when snow and rain are coming and prepare for the worst. Whether this means running errands before a storm or packing a bag to stay with your senior loved one a few nights.
2. Stock Up
During the winter months, stock up on necessities. Anything that is used regularly or that your senior loved one uses daily. Think water, food, medications, batteries, and toiletries.
3. Emergency Kit
If you must take your loved one out, be sure to keep an emergency kit in the vehicle.
Your kit should include:
- Extra winter accessories (hats, gloves, scarfs)
- Jumper cables
- Rock salt
- Snow shovel
- Flashlight and batteries
- Bottled water
- A cell phone power charging bank
4. Keep Your Loved One Warm
In the extreme cold, seniors should remain indoors. However, whether they are indoors, outdoors, or traveling in a vehicle, there should be a way to keep them warm.
At home, a senior’s thermostat should read between 68-70 degrees Fahrenheit. Purchasing a generator and keeping extra blankets in their home is a great way to prevent hypothermia if there is a power outage.
If your loved one must travel outdoors, be sure they are bundled up. A caregiver may want to help a senior layer their clothing, put on gloves, a hat, scarf, and winter coat.
During times of travel, there should be extra blankets, clothing, and winter accessories in the vehicle.
5. Hire a Snow Removal Service
If a caregiver cannot shovel their elderly loved one’s snow and salt their sidewalk, they may want to consider hiring a professional. Keeping steps and paths cleared and salted will prevent many falls.
The high acuity enhanced care solution
Most seniors will eventually need more care than a caregiver can provide. If your loved one needs constant supervision, help with daily tasks, or has a memory disease, it may benefit them to transition sooner rather than later.
Before the winter months approach, consider looking into a community with an enhanced assisted living license that offers enhanced care with high acuity.
Enhanced assisted living communities can not only keep your loved one well cared for in terms of their physical and mental well being, but also ease the burden on a caregiver or family member who has had to obtain and give medications, as well as keep up with housekeeping and providing meals.
In the past, assisted living communities could not meet all of their residents’ emotional, mental, physical, and medical needs. When this happened, seniors would often get moved to a nursing home.
With high acuity care, seniors can age in place in an assisted living or memory care community that accommodates their changing needs. This is especially important for memory disease residents. As seniors with memory diseases progress through the stages of Alzheimer’s or dementia, their needs will constantly change.
Your partners in care
With winter coming, it’s a great time to access the needs of your senior loved one. While it may be difficult to decide when to move them, moving your senior before the holidays and inclement weather would be easier.
At The Kensington White Plains, Our Promise is to love and care for your family as we do our own. We offer rehabilitation, satisfactory dining services, life-enrichment activities, and the proper level of care at every stage of life.
Our staff and on-site nurses will help your loved one feel safe and comfortable by providing them with high acuity care. Contact us to learn more about our assisted living and memory care communities, financing, events, programs, and services we offer our residents and their families.