The colder months are upon us.
If you live in Southern California, you probably still are getting a lot of sunshine even though the air is getting noticeably chilly.
If you live in the Mid-West, the snow has already started and hot chocolate and warm blankets are becoming the daily normal.
No matter where you live, this time of the year is cold.
Older adults can lose body heat fast- much faster than a younger person.
This makes elderly adults more susceptible to health and safety issues that come with the cold weather.
For elderly adults, cold weather can spell the beginning of challenges- cold, influenza, the risk for hypothermia and the onset of rheumatic pain are just a few of the problems.
So how do we help our elderly loved ones live through the winter in a safe and healthy manner?
In this post, I will go over older adults can achieve that.
The elderly and cold weather: Tips to stay safe and healthy.
Arm yourself against the common cold and flu
In this post I talk about 10 home remedies for the common cold.
And in this one, I go over how you can prepare for the flu season.
This is one of the very first steps you can take during this season – that you are protected against diseases that usually come with cold weather.
The resources I cited above will help you get prepared.
Keep warm inside
Some people don’t want to warm their homes especially before November because of the high cost of heating.
We are not disputing the fact that it can get very pricey, very quickly to heat your home.
However, yours and your elderly loved one’s health is not worth the money you may think you are saving by not heating up your home.
- Keep your home temperature at 70 degrees Fahrenheit at the minimum during colder months.
- Wear warm clothing like a sweater, heavier pants and socks during the colder months.
- Drink hot fluids to help you stay warm.
- Contact your gas or electric company and ask if they provide discounts that help seniors with the cost of heating up their homes. Some companies even have reasonable plans if your income falls below a certain amount per year.
- To save extra on your heating bill:
- keep the doors closed on the rooms you don’t use in your house
- roll a towel in front of the doors in your home to keep drafts out
- keep the basement door closed
- close all windows and keep the blinds closed at night so you don’t lose the heat
- If you are an elderly adult who lives alone, have people check on you at least once a day.
- If your loved one has dementia or Alzheimer’s it is important to keep an eye on them during this season so that they don’t walk out of the house without the appropriate clothing.
Know the signs of hypothermia
Knowing the signs of hypothermia is critical for you- to be able to recognize it for yourself- and your elderly loved one.
Here’s what you should watch out for.
Early signs of hypothermia:
- Cold feet and hands
- A puffy or swollen face
- Pale skin
- Slower than normal speech or slurring words
- Person seems sleepier than normal
- Being angry or confused
Later signs of hypothermia:
- Moving slowly, trouble walking, or being clumsy
- Stiff and jerky arm or leg movements
- Slow heartbeat
- Slow, shallow breathing
- Blacking out or losing consciousness
If you observe any of these signs in yourself or your elderly loved one, call 9-1-1 IMMEDIATELY!
Safety outside the house
Snow, hail and freezing rain in the winter months can make going out a hazard.
Making sure that walkways are shoveled and salted is an important key to preventing falls and related accidents.
Warm your car up for at least 5-10 minutes before you move it to prevent mechanical problems.
Before the weather gets super cold, have a mechanic check your car for antifreeze levels and change your tires if need be.
This is not Game of Thrones but winter is coming.
Staying warm during the colder months should not be an afterthought.
Preparing for it now could be a life-saving decision.
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