Ice, snow, and freezing temperatures can make life more challenging for seniors during the winter months. Slippery walkways and bone-chilling colds can lead to serious injuries and illnesses, particularly for older adults. These tips for winter can help keep seniors safe.
Dress Warm to Prevent Hypothermia
Hypothermia is a risk for older people living in regions with colder temperatures in winter. This condition occurs when the temperature of the body drops too low. Hypothermia is a preventable medical emergency caused by prolonged exposure to cold without adequate protection from clothing. One of the risk factors is advanced age. In a study of hypothermia-related mortality, researchers found that 52% of the people who died were over the age of 65, as reported by CDC. Older adults should be particularly careful to wear warm socks, a hat, gloves, a scarf, and a warm coat outdoors.
Watch Out for Frostbite
Frostbite is another risk for older adults in extremely cold temperatures. It can affect the ears, nose, cheeks, chin, fingers, and toes. In severe cases, frostbite can cause the loss of a digit or a limb. To protect against frostbite:
- Make sure all body parts are covered when you go outside.
- Go indoors right away if your skin starts hurting or turns red or dark.
- Watch for the signs of frostbite and get immediate medical attention if they appear. Symptoms of frostbite include grayish-yellow skin (white or ashy for people with darker skin); skin that feels waxy or hard; and numbness.
Take Precautions to Avoid Slipping and Falling
Icy roads and walkways make slip and fall accidents more likely. Falls are common among senior citizens, and they often cause serious injuries, such as hip fractures, wrist fractures, head trauma, and lacerations. Falls are a leading cause of death among adults over the age of 65. To avoid a fall in the wintertime, it is best to stay indoors until roads and walkways are cleared. When venturing outside, wear non-skid shoes with good traction and take them off when you come indoors to prevent slippery conditions from melted ice indoors. If you use a cane, replace the tip to make walking easier.
Prepare for Power Outages
Winter storms can cause the power to go out. Make sure seniors have easy access to flashlights and a stockpile of warm blankets in case this happens. Older adults should wear a hat and several layers of clothing during a power outage. Keep a supply of non-perishable foods that can be eaten cold on hand in case the lack of power causes food in the refrigerator to spoil.
Make Sure Carbon Monoxide Detectors Are Functioning
Using a gas heater, lantern, or fireplace can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. Check the batteries on carbon monoxide detectors. If detectors are outmoded or no longer working well, buy new ones.
Adults aged 65 and older have access to healthcare through Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage Plan. Our agent can help you shop for a Medicare health plan to suit your needs.