10 Things to Make Sure Your Senior Loved One Has During the Winter
Winter is quickly approaching. That means it's time to prepare for the snow, ice and an early sunset. Our senior loved ones are especially at risk of possible dangers during the winter months. If your senior loved one lives alone, there are many risks they could face during the winter months include illnesses, injuries, and fires.
A few weeks ago, my grandma, who lives alone, left the iron on accidentally igniting a fire. Everything is OK now, but this event made me worry about her, especially considering that according to the US Fire Administration, winter home fires account for only 8 percent of the total number of fires in the U.S., but result in 30 percent of all fire deaths.
I can worry less knowing I have prepared her with these ten things this winter.
1. Fresh Batteries
While in my grandmother’s case, leaving the iron on was the culprit for catastrophe, other things to look out for are candles, space heaters, fireplaces (natural, electric or gas), electric or heated blankets, cookies in the oven, hot chocolate on the stove and those chestnuts roasting on the open fire. These are all possible fire hazards, so make sure your senior loved one has new batteries in their smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and easy access to a phone and a fire extinguisher if needed.
2. Draft Guards
As we all know, the winter months in the northeast can get extremely cold, so it is vital to make sure your senior loved one’s home stays warm. One easy way to do this is to ensure the home is properly insulated and does not have drafty doors or windows. This could mean getting a door draft stopper to block the door, or adding weather stripping to any drafty window or door.
3. Action Plan
Something I wish my grandma had during the house fire was an action plan. A good action plan should outline steps on what to do in an emergency, as well as emergency contact numbers, insurance information, etc. Plan for common, and not so common scenarios like power outages, getting snowed in, fire, medical emergencies, and more.
4. Emergency Preparedness Kit
A well stocked kit and ensure the health and safety of your senior loved one even beyond the winter. Kits should include non-perishable food items, bottled water, some candy in case they have low blood sugar, medications they might need, a radio, flashlight, and warm blankets. Our winter disaster supply kit checklist details some additional items to include.
5. Warm clothing and layers
Make sure your senior is dressed warm throughout the winter and has many layers for when they leave their home. This includes gloves, warm boots, scarves, jackets, and hats. Long underwear and thermal gear are nice to have on hand for those extremely cold days.
6. Ice Scraper and Salt
If your senior loved one is still driving, make sure they are safe by having plenty of salt to put down before a storm so they have a path to their car (and the rest of the driveway.) An ice scraper and snow brush will be invaluable to clear off their car and prepare to drive after the storm has passed and road conditions have improved. A long-handled or extendable scraper would be best to minimize their falling risk.
If your senior loved one is unable to clear their walkways themselves, see if someone in the family is willing to stop by and clear their walkways. If no one in the family is willing or able to help, you could hire a snow removal company or a neighborhood kid to come by and clear the walkways for them.
7. Fun plants
The winter months can be sad and lonely, try to open the blinds and curtains to let some natural light in. If your senior loved one does not already have a houseplant in their window, get them a Christmas Cactus. A Christmas Cactus is something great and exciting they can take care of, watch grow and watch bloom in the winter months. Plus, a plant can warm and cheer up any room.They can also share with friends and family by snipping three links and planting it in another pot,
8. Eye Drops
The dry winter months can lead to dry eyes and irritation. Make sure your senior loved one has eye drops to relieve the pain of dry eyes this winter. If your senior loved one has any medical conditions or consults a doctor on a regular basis, ask if using eye drops is safe for them to use. The doctor might even be able to recommend a good bottle of drops.
No one likes cold feet! Socks can be slippery and thin and shoes are not always comfortable to wear around the house. A happy medium between socks and shoes are some cozy non-slip slippers. In addition to keeping feet warm and providing slip prevention, having a cute as a pair of slippers are always fun.
10. Night lights
During the winter months, it gets darker earlier. Keeping dark areas of the house well-lit is an important component of fall prevention. Make sure areas like staircases and hallways have night lights to keep the ground well-lit to help prevent falls. Some people find that darkness can be somber, so adding some lights in dark areas is also a great way to cheer up house.
It’s really important to make sure that your senior loved one is safe and healthy this winter. These ten items are great to have on hand to keep your senior safe, healthy, comfortable and supported this winter. For more information on how to prepare your senior loved one for winter, download our free eBook!
About Abigail Lee
Recently, Presbyterian Senior Living teamed up with the Communication/Journalism Department at Shippensburg University to provide students with professional writing experience. This opportunity allows students to not only learn the ins and outs of blog writing but also offers them a platform for published works. This author is a Communication/Journalism student at Shippensburg University.