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Winter Safety Tips for Seniors

"Oh the weather outside is frightful, but inside it's so delightful." While these may be words from a classic holiday carol, the sentiment is true. During the winter months, snow, sleet, and ice can make getting out and around a challenging - and often dangerous undertaking - for seniors.

These winter safety tips will help to make sure you’re ready to handle the weather.

Eliminate slips and falls. Falls are often a common occurrence for senior citizens during the winter season and can cause hip and wrist fractures, head trauma, and lacerations. Arrange for a friend or family member to clear your sidewalks, porches and driveways of snow and ice. Contact your pharmacy and grocery store about delivering items that you may need. When outside, watch for black ice and wear non-skid shoes or boots that provide good traction; however, once inside remove shoes to prevent slipping on melted snow. In hazardous weather, avoid going outside without assistance, if at all possible.

Dress for warmth. Whether you are outside or inside, dressing warmly is important as seniors produce less body heat and are susceptible to hypothermia. Dressing in layers of natural fibers and wearing a hat, gloves, scarf, and warm socks assists in retaining body heat. When inside, keep the thermostat at a comfortable temperature, wear warm clothes, and use blankets when sleeping. Go ahead and drink a cup of hot chocolate. Warm foods and drinks are also helpful to keep your body temperature up.

Fight the winter blues. Whether it's less social contact due to cold, dangerous weather or seasonal affective disorder (SAD) that has you down, wintertime depression can cause feelings of loneliness and isolation. To combat these issues, seniors can arrange a check-in system with neighbors and friends (when the weather is good) and call, Skype, Facetime, or text message family and friends. Loved ones are encouraged to check on older family members each day, even if it is only a short phone call.

Prepare for a winter storm. It's inevitable that a winter storm will cause a power outage at least once during the season. Be prepared by stocking batteries, flashlights, a battery-powered radio, warm blankets, candles and lighter, bottled water and non-perishable foods. If there is a working fireplace in the home, have dried logs and kindling easily accessible. Make a family communication plan that outlines who will call whom during the event of a power outage or a winter storm. Also, be sure to check the batteries in all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and replace if needed.

Check the car. Before the first snowflake falls, schedule to have a car repair center check the oil, tires, battery, and wipers and replace any worn items. Pack an emergency roadside kit to include a blanket and warm clothes, non-perishable food, bottled water, battery-powered radio, first aid kit, snow shovel, and ice scraper. Be sure to keep the gas tank full and let someone know your destination, route, and expected time of arrival if you are driving in wintery weather. If you don't drive during the winter, ask a family member to bring the car into the garage.

Most importantly, seniors should ask friends, family, and service professionals for help during colder months to keep safe. If you need assistance, reach out to neighbors, family members, or professional services. While the winter can pose challenges for seniors, planning and awareness will go a long way to help you stay healthy and safe!

For more information about a lifestyle that doesn't involve snow shoveling or preparing for a winter storm, contact Sanders Glen Assisted Living in Westfield, Indiana, at (317) 867-0212.