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Winter Advice for Caregivers

For seniors as well as caregivers, the colder months can be a challenge. In the coldest days of winter, frostbite and hypothermia are real possibilities, and snow and ice make it more dangerous to be outside on foot or in a vehicle.

In adults 65 years of age and older, falls account for almost one-third of non-fatal injuries. Caregivers can help prepare for dangerous winter conditions for their loved ones.

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Because older adults are more susceptive to injury, it is essential to be prepared for these colder months. There are some simple moves that caregivers can make this time of year to help their loved ones get better prepared.

 

The best cold protection for seniors aging is staying as much as possible indoors. However, heating the home may pose a risk. According to the National Fire Protection Association, heating is the second leading cause of residential fires in the US. Chimneys, flues, and fuel burners are attributed to 84 percent of those fires.

Caregivers must:

 

 Ensure proper servicing, maintenance, and venting of heating devices. Check regularly for the adequate functioning of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Make sure space heaters are away from flammable objects at least three feet away.

While encouraging seniors to stay indoors is the best way to keep them safe, it is not possible to avoid going out sometimes. If snow and ice are on the territory, retrieving the mail can pose significant problems for seniors. According to the National Safety Council, falls count for almost one-third of non-fatal injuries in adults of 65 years and older and are the leading cause of injury-related death. Seniors should stay indoors until the treacherous conditions subside when snow and ice are on the ground and ask their caregiver if they are in place, or a neighbor or family member to get their mail.

 

If your loved one is insisting on going out, be sure that he or she has good traction shoes or boots of high quality. Encourage them to walk in areas that have been cleaned and/or salted, using handrails or a cane if necessary. Walk alongside them every step to make sure you're right there to prevent a fall if they lose balance. Help them create a place in their home to remove their shoes easily so that there is no tracking of water and mud throughout the house that could create slippery conditions inside.