Winter is fun time for young people with endless imagination of what all they can do with snow. For the elderly and disabled, snow can bring about more obstacles and potential hazards. It is important for all of our seniors to be safe at all times when out in the snow with the family or just strolling through it as a daily routine. Here are some tips for seniors, especially those who are disabled, to stay safe during winter.
1. Make Sure the Home is Prepared: If health or mobility issues prevent you from doing the more grueling home tasks like shoveling, make pre-arrangements to have some neighbor kids, family, or friends help you out. Getting to the mail box or the car can be nightmare for someone with a walker or wheelchair in two feet of snow so make sure the driveway and walkways are cleared often. Also make sure the house is properly arranged to get around efficiently, re-arrange furniture, install grab bars, etc.
2. Stock Up: Make sure all appropriate prescriptions are filled and that there is plenty of food in the house. If snow closes down on certain roads or affects the power supply in your house, you will want to be prepared. Stock up on batteries, as well as wood if you have a fire place. Staying warm is essential during winter, especially for the elderly.
3. Keep your Cellphone Charged at All Times: In case of a severe storm or catastrophe, keep a cell phone fully charged whenever you are at home. This way if you do get snowed in or your power goes out, you will be able to call for help, if needed. This one cannot be stressed enough as one of the leading causes of death during the winter is lack of communication. If you rely on electric heat to keep you warm and have no fireplace, call for help IMMEDIATELY when you are snowed in.
4. Move Slow, Move Light: When you’re walking on the snow, whether it’s to the mailbox or around the block to see a friend, walk slowly and maintain your balance. Those who require walking aids, make sure the bottom of your walker or cane have the rubber tips on so that when you put weight on them they won’t slip out from underneath you. It is not a very good idea to use rollators on the snow so be sure you have the proper walking aid.
5. Counteract “Cabin Fever”: Nobody likes to be cooped up at home with nothing to do for a such a long period of time. If you or your elder loved one is alone, give them a call once in a while to see how they are doing, if nothing else just to chat. Make sure there are books, games, anything to stimulate the mind in the house. Boredom can lead to anxiety which can lead to unwanted stress during the winter. Have a hobby to keep your mind away from the potential hazards of the season.
As we get older we all grow more vulnerable to nature. The key is simply preparation and taking the necessary precautions to ensure you’ll be able to enjoy the winter rather than dread it.