5 Ways to Help An Elder Prepare For Cold Weather
If you live in a state with all four seasons, like New Jersey, then you know that cold weather can be tough. The wind chill, precipitation and potential power outages are that much harder on elders. Here are five ways you can help your elder loved one prepare for cold weather.
Get The Right Winter Gear
It may seem like it can go unsaid that you should make sure elders have warm clothes, hats, and gloves, but many people find themselves unprepared when the first winter storm appears, or the temperature drops drastically. Plan and make sure your loved one has their winter gear, that it fits well and is comfortable, and that it’s easily accessible. If these items are put away during warm months, make sure they are taken out well in advance so your loved one isn’t scrambling to get clothes from the attic alone.
Consider Non-Slip Footwear
In addition to warm clothes, make sure your elder loved one is equipped with gear to prevent slips and falls. Non-skid boots are essential, even for those who don’t travel out of their home regularly. Simply going on a porch or driveway can be dangerous in the wrong shoes when it’s slippery. If your loved one uses a walker or cane, replace the rubber tips before winter. As the tips become worn down, the surface becomes more slippery. Also, keep a container of ice-melter accessible for your loved one to prevent exterior stairs from icing over, or consider a non-slip permanent treatment for the surface.
Keep Adequate Food and Water
It’s common knowledge that elders often have difficulty maintaining their body temperature. But did you know that proper nutrition actually helps to keep people warm? Talk to your elder loved one about this when discussing their eating habits. In addition to hypothermia concerns, dehydration is a serious problem. Most elders do not drink a lot of water or they take medication that makes it harder to stay hydrated. This is not just a concern in warm weather. Sometimes people are more aware of their fluid intake during summer months due to being hot. So it’s important to discuss food and water intake with your loved one as they prepare for cold weather.
This does not mean, like most of us, to stock up on bread, eggs, and milk (so-called “french toast supplies!”). Essentials like bottled water, easy-to-cook ingredients and pre-prepared meals that are easy to microwave or heat on the stovetop will keep our loved ones well nourished.
Check The Utilities
Consider scheduling a heating system checkup and check other heating and comfort system components before cold weather returns. Make sure filters are replaced or cleaned. If their heating system requires fuel delivery, verify that the levels are being monitored and maintained. Test carbon monoxide and smoke detectors. It is recommended to change batteries (when applicable) when we change the clocks for Daylight Saving Time. When disposing of old batteries, remember that 9-volt batteries can cause a fire because the positive and negative ends are directly next to each other, making them susceptible to friction. It is best to apply electrical tape to the end to prevent other objects, such as disposed steel wool pads, from rubbing against the positive and negative ends.
Make a Disaster Preparedness Kit
Power outages and major snowstorms happen, and we all need to be prepared. If your loved one doesn’t live with you, it may take you time to get to them when you are both snowed in. Make sure they have a disaster kit with provisions for at least 3 days including food, water and medication with written instructions. In addition to the kit, keep flashlights on each level of a home. Make sure to discuss a plan for what you will do when outages occur, since you may not be able to communicate. Consider including a trusted neighbor in the plan to assist checking on your loved one.
These are just a few of the steps that you can take to ensure you and your loved ones will stay out of the grips of an emergency during cold weather and sudden storms. If you have any questions about how to prepare the home, or what kind of other resources might be needed if you cannot reach your loved ones, please feel free to contact our Senior Living Resources staff for assistance.
Archer Brogan Can Help
For More Information Contact this office (609) 842-9200