3 winter safety tips for seniors & caring for older relatives
There are a few winter safety tips you can use to make sure you or your relative doesn’t have a difficult time during the winter months.
I have been quite shocked by some of the statistics I’ve come across in various news sites about older people and seniors suffering from exposure to the cold when winter rolls around. Where I live, in Sidney, Australia, we enjoy relatively mild weather all year around, but it’s dependent on where you live. In some areas like the Blue Mountains and beautiful Bowral NSW (where my feisty 90-year old Great Uncle Mick lives) it can get very cold, particularly at night, and older people with weaker immune systems have been known to suffer.
Have a look at this article from the UK, Winter deaths hit 15-year high, which states, “There were almost 44,000 ‘excess deaths’ between December and March last year – the largest annual rise in such figures for almost five decades.” Granted, this was from a couple of years ago, during a particularly cold season. Take a look at this large study (which has been discussed at length online) that talks about many countries experiencing increases in death rates due to variations in temperature across 13 countries over a 27 year period.
The fact is: most of us love and feel protective of, the older people in our lives. Often, they are the most humble, respectful and soothing people to be around. My Uncle Mick and I get on very well and I always enjoy visiting him whenever I can, but I know it can get very cold in the winter months where he lives; just 3 degrees Celsius during the winter.
Winter safety tips are important to take note of
If you have an elderly relative or friend, then it’s likely that you want to look after them in every way you can. Lets’ face it, even the most independent seniors deserve a lot of love and compassion, and extra attention to make sure their needs are being met – especially as so many of them might be reticent to ask for the help they need.
When winter comes around, you might be concerned with your elderly relative’s health. The fact is, older bodies simply aren’t as efficient as they once were in warming themselves, and immune systems may be low. Older people are more susceptible to the dangers of cold-induced illnesses. For this reason, it’s important to stay mindful and revise your methodology of care. Here are a few things you can do.
#1: Use aged care delivery services
When it’s really cold outside, it might be more difficult for seniors to leave the house to get the medications they need. Sometimes an elderly relative might need real help organising their medications or being reminded to take them. But what if you’re physically unable to go and visit them? The good news is that there are services that now deliver, it just means that you need to research your area.
There are many pharmaceutical aged care services available that can provide seniors with the medications they require, and deliver them right to their door. These services can also help provide your relative with their medication within a care home, retirement community or other place; delivering a high standard of care and regularity which is so important for peace of mind. Read plenty of reviews online and don’t be afraid to make contact on behalf of your relative if this will make things easier for them.
#2: Check out reputable retirement communities
What was once known as “nursing homes” have come a long way, and are now known as retirement communities. The fact is, not all nursing homes are the same. Depending on their level of independence and their level of risk, sometimes looking at home care options is the most caring thing you can do to assist your relative. Many older people choose to enter retirement communities well before they “need” to, just for the sense of social connections and community they enjoy there. Many have excellent facilities, such as classes, exercise facilities, beautiful grounds and perks such as free shuttle buses or access to meals.
A modern, equipped facility with the needs of your relative in mind (especially when it comes to winter) can be hugely beneficial. In reality, everyone from young to old is likely to spend more time inside on their own in winter. For your elderly relative, having access to a social life they might not have otherwise can be wonderful for them to experience in multiple ways.
#3: Make sure that they stay warm
It might seem very obvious but your relative needs to stay warm. Consider assessing the insulation, energy effectiveness and how the heating warmth travels throughout the house, and fixing things up when they need repair.
Gift your elderly relative with multiple layers such as cardigans, scarves and added blankets for the bed. Check their accommodation at different times of the day and night, and at different times of the year to make sure that the temperature is consistent. Consider making their home the cosiest abode you possibly can, and you’re sure to rest easy in the knowledge that your relative is no longer experiencing the cold they might have otherwise.