Sub-freezing temperatures and hazardous road conditions can make life difficult for anyone, but caregivers of home-bound seniors and those with mobility issues should take extra precautions to keep their loved ones safe and warm.
1. Keep an emergency kit in case of power outages. Be sure to include flashlights with extra batteries, blankets, water, ready-to-eat meals or non-perishable food items, and a week’s supply of prescription medications. It’s also a good idea to equip seniors with an easy-to-use, charged cell phone in case telephone service is interrupted.
2. Prevent slips and falls, by making sure outside walkways are shoveled or de-iced with salt or sand. There should also be a place inside the door to dry wet outerwear. Walking around in wet stocking feet can also lead to slips and falls.
3. Keep cold air out. Weatherproof your loved one’s house by caulking window frames or taping plastic over the inside windows. Place a towel against the threshold of doors that lead outside to avoid cold drafts of air coming in.
4. Remove any fire risks, such as kerosene or space heaters, candles and fireplaces left burning. Instead, opt for heavy blankets and dressing in layers.
5. Keep the cupboards stocked with nutritious non-perishable foods and water. In the winter when we tend to be less active and spend fewer hours in outdoors, a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables is even more important, particularly foods with a large supply of vitamin D such as dairy, fish, eggs, and whole-grain cereals.