While many of us love bundling up in warm, cozy sweaters and sipping on hot chocolate, the cold weather does come with some drawbacks. There are some things that you and your senior loved one can do now, to help ensure optimum health and safety this winter.
- Older adults are more susceptible to hypothermia- while it is important to dress warmly and keep dry, it is equally important to remember good nutrition. Food provides the fuel we need to keep warm.
- Cold air can make anyone's skin sore and dry, but this is especially true for seniors. To avoid painful cracks and cuts, start regularly moisturizing, especially after showers and washing your hands. It also helps to install a humidifier in the bedroom and drinking plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.
- Before winter arrives, check all the windows and doors in your home for cracked or worn sealants. Applying a fresh layer of caulk may be needed; in a bind, applying a sheet of plastic tarp or a window insulation kit from your local home improvement store can help with those really old windows.
- Talk to your electric or gas companies to see if you can be put on billing system that averages your energy payments equally over 12 months. Don't overdo your money-saving efforts: keep your thermostat set to at least 65 degrees to prevent hypothermia.
- Don't forget to get your flu shot! It is a recognized fact that people over the age of 65 are at a greater risk for serious complications from the flu because our immune defenses become weaker with age. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has some great information on flu vaccines designed specifically for people 65 and older.
The most important thing to keep in mind as the weather gets cooler is to not be afraid to ask for help. If you or your loved one needs to clear your property of wet leaves or snow and ice, don't hesitate to ask a family member or neighbor, or hire a professional. While the winter can pose challenges for seniors, with some planning and awareness, we can all stay healthy and experience the joys of springtime in just a few short months!