Winter Safety Tips- For Caregivers and Seniors
Community Nurse & Hospice Care knows how important it is for seniors to remain safe at home during the winter. Getting through the cold weather can be especially challenging for homebound elders, who already rely on family and friends for vital assistance. The following are some tips to help both seniors and caregivers alike make this time of year easier.
- Check on elderly neighbors and relatives frequently during the winter months.
- Being an independent-living senior doesn’t mean having to “go it alone” against Old Man Winter. Call on children, relatives, and neighbors for help.
- If you have trouble lifting bags of salt or shovelfuls of snow, look for help. Snow shoveling is hard work, and in cold temperatures you’re more at risk of heart attack. Before winter arrives, check at your local church or senior centers for snow removal resources.
- Keep warm! When you have to be outside, dress in layers and cover all exposed skin, including the head, face, earlobes, hands and feet, to limit your exposure to the cold. When inside, take extra care in using fireplaces, wood stoves, candles and space heaters. Your local fire department can provide you home heating safety advice, and if you use a wood stove or fireplace have it inspected and cleaned. To help ensure your safety, put fresh batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors at the onset of cold weather.
- Conserve interior heat by closing windows and doors to rooms you aren’t using. Cover windows with draperies and place towels along cracks at the bottom of doors. And always store plenty of dry wood inside in case you can’t get out.
- Eating Right: It’s tempting in the winter to load up on high-carbohydrate foods. Vegetable-laden stews and soups made with no sodium or reduced-sodium broths and warm, beverages can keep you feeling toasty on a cold day and provide your body beneficial nutrients. Limit alcohol, caffeine and cigarette smoking. They decrease the body’s ability to conserve heat.
- If you are Oxygen Dependant have an emergency action plan in case of power outages. The following link has vital information for anyone who is oxygen dependant or anyone caring for someone who is oxygen dependent. http://copd.about.com/od/livingwithcop1/qt/Oxygen-Emergency-Tips.htm
- Call Mass211 or check with your local Emergency Management Office to find the locations of any Warming Centers that may be open in your community
- Many towns and cities have programs to help low income seniors with heating resources and snow removal, contact your local government for information on these programs.
Some resources for helping seniors prepare for the winter months are local councils on aging, local agency on aging, local or municipal governments, local fire and police departments.
The Massachusetts Emergency management Agency recently released its guidelines for everyone to stay safe during these bitterly cold days. Click here to download a copy of MEMAs cold weather precautions: MEMA Cold Weather precautions