Winter Hazards And How Seniors Can Avoid Them
Now that the snow has fallen and continues to fall, there are a few hazards that seniors should be looking out for and hopefully avoiding.
1). COLD, ICE AND SNOW
- Falls -- slips on ice are a major risk so it is important that to wear shoes with appropriate traction. If you are unsure about the traction on your shoes, there is a rubber traction device that slips onto the bottom of your shoe to add traction. Some stores carry them in the shoe area for a reasonable price. They are definitely worth it and go right onto the bottom of your shoe so easily.
- Driving -- Ice and snow can present many dangers for any driver in the winter time. Seniors should avoid driving when the roads are at their worse condition. For those that who do drive in bad conditions, should be prepared for the conditions. Drive slowly and cautiously. Ensure your car is in good shape, and keep an emergency kit in your care (blankets, candles, matches, etc.) if something was to happen to your car and you become stranded. If you do not want to prepare your own emergency kit, check out some facilities around you, like Sask Abilities in Regina, they usually sell emergency car kits for a reasonable price. Moving into the technology age, it probably would be a good idea to invest in a cell phone of some sort. There are tons of affordable phones that you could leave in your car for emergencies.
- Hypothermia and frostbite -- Cold temps can cause hypothermia and frostbite. Do not venture outside if it is too cold or if you have to, make sure you dress warmly. Frostbite and hypothermia do not only happen if you are outside, but also if you are inside. Ask to get your furnace inspected before it starts getting too cold out and to have a number on hand for who to call if your heating goes out. Make sure that your thermostat is above 65 degrees F and that you have a sweater on or with you if you are attending something out of your home.
2). SOCIAL ISOLATION
With the temperature dipping low, a lot of seniors do not want to venture outside. This is understandable because in cold circumstances, do any of us want to venture outside?
If you notice your loved one is not really venturing out or is secluding themself at home, make sure that you are going over more and making sure that they have everything they need. Some seniors may not go out for days and you may find that they are running out of food or other household items. If they are wanting to go out and are hesitant to drive, transportation arrangements could be made to the local shopping center, libraries, senior center, place of worship, etc. Lots of assisted living facilities (if your loved one is living in one) offer group transportation to a variety of places.
3). FLU SEASON
Unfortunately, with winter, comes the ugly flu bug rears its head. Seniors have a weakened immune system and are more susceptible to the flu bug. Flu can lead to other sicknesses as well like pneumonia. Check with your doctor to see if they can do the flu shot or where you can get one done.
4). SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER (SAD) OR THE "WINTERTIME BLUES"
Seasonal affective disorder is common and occurs usually when winter is sticking around because people are cooped up in their homes and the decreased daylight. Leaving curtains open to let the daylight in or brighter lights at home could possibly help with lifting the mood. Anyone that is experiencing depression, please get seen by your doctor as soon as possible.
5). DECREASED DAYLIGHT, DEMENTIA AND SUNDOWNING
Seniors that have dementia or Alzheimer's experience Sundowner's Syndrome which settles itself as increased memory loss, confusion, agitation, and even anger during the evening hours. Winter's lack of daylight can upset our internal clocks.
As stated before in some tips above, any signs of severe depression should be followed up by your doctor.