Winter is a season of beauty, bringing with it picturesque snowfalls and cozy evenings by the fire. However, for aging adults, it can also present unique challenges. As temperatures drop, it’s crucial to be prepared to promote a safe and healthy winter season.
Recognizing the Opportunities
Cold weather can increase the chance of health problems for seniors, such as hypothermia, frostbite, and falls due to icy conditions. Additionally, winter can lead to feelings of isolation, as snow and cold can make it difficult to leave the house. Recognizing these opportunities for issues to occur is the first step in preparing for them. To help you prepare, we created this guide to help you navigate the cold months with confidence.
Checklist for Helping Aging Loved Ones Prepare for Winter
- Home Inspection:
- Check the insulation of the house to ensure it retains heat.
- Ensure windows and doors are sealed properly to prevent drafts.
- Inspect the heating system and replace any old or worn-out parts.
- If you have concerns, have a trusted professional inspect the home to help ensure any issues are addressed properly.
- Winter Wardrobe:
- Help them sort through their winter clothing and ensure they have warm layers.
- Purchase or provide a heavy winter coat, gloves, scarves, and a hat that covers the ears.
- Ensure they have waterproof boots with non-slip soles for icy conditions.
- Home Safety:
- Clear walkways and driveways of snow and ice regularly. If clearing the snow and ice is not safe or feasible, contact a local snow plow service or enlist a neighbor to help with this task.
- Stock up on salt or sand to use on icy patches around their home.
- Inside the house, remove any tripping hazards and ensure that rugs are secured to prevent slips.
- Stay Connected:
- Set up a regular check-in schedule, either through phone calls, texts, or video chats.
- If you’re going on vacation, provide your parents with an alternate contact. This could be a neighbor, friend, or another family member.
- Consider hiring a service or asking someone trustworthy to check on your parents physically if you’ll be away for an extended period.
- Medication and Essentials:
- Ensure they have a stock of essential medications. Consider setting up a medication reminder system.
- Stock up on groceries, especially non-perishables, in case of heavy snowfall or other emergencies.
- If they’re not comfortable going out, set up a grocery delivery service for them.
- Emergency Preparedness:
- Create an emergency kit with essentials like a flashlight, batteries, first aid supplies, bottled water, and non-perishable food items.
- Ensure they know where the main water shut-off is in case of frozen pipes.
- Make a list of emergency contacts, including neighbors, local emergency services, and family members.
- Nutrition and Hydration:
- Encourage a balanced diet with seasonal fruits and vegetables.
- Stock up on warm beverages like tea, coffee, and hot chocolate.
- Remind them to drink water regularly to stay hydrated.
- Activities and Mental Health:
- Encourage indoor activities like reading, puzzles, or crafts to keep them engaged.
- Consider setting up a regular social activity, like weekly video calls with family or virtual events.
- Monitor for signs of seasonal affective disorder or winter blues, and consider a light therapy lamp if needed.
- Medical Appointments:
- Schedule any necessary medical appointments before the deep winter months.
- If they have regular appointments, consider setting up transportation services if you’re unavailable.
- Backup Power:
- If they rely on medical equipment that needs power, ensure there’s a backup power source like a generator.
- Charge all essential devices, and consider purchasing a power bank for emergencies.
- Vacation Preparations:
- If you’re planning to be out of town, ensure your parents have someone else’s contact information.
- Arrange for a neighbor, friend, or professional service to check on them regularly.
- Leave a list of emergency contacts, including your vacation contact information, with them.
- Stay Informed:
- Set up weather alerts on their phone or home devices to keep them informed about severe weather conditions.
- Encourage them to stay indoors during extreme cold or snowstorms.
Winter can be a challenging time for seniors, but with preparation and awareness, it can also be a season of joy and tranquility. By following this checklist, you can help to ensure that your aging parents are well-prepared for the winter months. Regular check-ins and a bit of preparation can go a long way in supporting their safety and well-being.
CareAparent provides comprehensive in-home care services, ensuring aging individuals can safely and comfortably navigate the winter months in the familiarity of their own homes. From personal care to telemedicine consultations, CareAparent is dedicated to supporting families and their elderly loved ones throughout the chilly season, and beyond. For a free consultation, contact us either by phone: 651.702.HOME (4663) or on our website, and let’s discuss how we can best support your needs!