Winter is a wonderful time of year but it is essential to keep in mind that this season is particularly hazardous to senior safety.
The Dangers of the Winter Months
When you are considering elder care, it is important to keep in mind that the colder months are more dangerous.
A look-out should be kept for winter advisories which indicate that there may be hazardous conditions. Seniors who wish to maintain their independence as well as those who specialize in senior home care should plan ahead for these situations. A winter storm means that precautions should be taken against snow and heavy ice. Therefore, particular care should be utilized against injury when walking on snow and ice.
Walking on Ice and Snow
If it is necessary for a person under senior care or in-home care to walk on ice or snow, special precautions should be taken to prevent falling.
The individual should try to remain on the sidewalk and, if walking on the street is necessary, one should remain as close to the street’s edge as possible as poor driving conditions can prevent the motorists from braking efficiently.
Excessively cold temperatures can be fatal, regardless of whether the patient lives in a house with insufficient heating or is outside. A common reaction to intense cold is hypothermia which consists of the lowering of core temperature. Over half of deaths due to hypothermia occur in individuals who are over 75 years of age. Even mildly cold conditions are able to cause hypothermia in those who are elderly as they have poorer circulation and respiration.
Frostbite is another dangerous condition that occurs when the tissue of the body becomes frozen due to prolonged exposure to cold conditions. The symptoms of frostbite include a pale or white appearance along with numbness in areas of the body such as toes, ear lobes, the nose’s tip, or fingers. Professional help should be sought as soon as possible if an individual has undergone exposure to intense cold and symptoms have begun to present. While help is on the way, the areas of the body should be cared for by warming the body’s core before the legs and arms as extremity warming could damage the heart by sending cold blood to the core.
Other Important Safety Measures
- Proper hygiene should be maintained such as the washing of the hands so as to prevent colds. If the individual is sick, they should remain at home and isolated from other individuals. Make sure that all immunizations are up to date.
- The individual should stay active and, after exercising, gradual cool downs should be followed. This will make sure that the heart stays on track with the demands of the circulatory system.
- If the person needs to go outside in the cold, layers of clothing should be worn. The layers will serve to keep the individual warm in cold weather and, if the person becomes too warm, layers can always be removed one by one.
Home care counselors at Safe at Home Healthcare are available to talk with you about your in-home care needs including how to reduce caregiver stress while providing better, affordable care. We are an elder care agency providing Home Care in Oswego.