Winter can be a dangerous season for seniors, especially in areas that receive a lot of snow and ice. Seniors that already struggle with mobility find it especially hard to get around in December, January, and February, and many elderly people struggle with illnesses and loneliness in the winter. As there are several weeks of winter remaining, today we’re going to discuss common winter hazards for seniors and how they can be avoided with some careful planning.
Winter Hazards for Seniors
ICE, SNOW, & BITTER TEMPERATURES. Let’s start with the most obvious hazard: winter weather. If you live in an area that receives heavy snowfalls, ice, and extremely cold temperatures, you will need to take extra precautions during the wintertime. First, be sure that you wear well-fitting shoes with good traction. Avoid walking on slippery surfaces and when you do, hold on to supportive rails (if available). Next, avoid driving during bad weather conditions, and when you do drive, go slow and be vigilant. Finally, always dress warmly when heading outdoors and keep your home comfortably warm as well.
LONELINESS. Winter weather makes it difficult for people to walk outside, drive, and visit friends and family. Social isolation can be very harmful, leading to extreme loneliness and depression. To avoid this, seniors might consider living in a retirement community (where friends and helpful staff members are always nearby) and/or using Skype and e-mail to communicate with loved ones.
FLU SEASON. Flu season peaks in the wintertime, and seniors are especially susceptible to catching influenza due to their weakened immune systems. Additionally, sicknesses like the flu are more dangerous for seniors because they can lead to even more harrowing illnesses, like pneumonia. To stay healthy, be sure to request a flu shot early in the flu season and visit your doctor at the first sign of symptoms.
SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER. Many people find that their energy levels decrease in the winter and they’re generally less happy. The “wintertime blues” are not a myth; this state of mind is caused by a Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Because the primary cause of SAD is lack of daylight, it is recommended that you embrace natural lighting as much as possible during the winter. Open your curtains and blinds, sit by a window throughout the day, and go for walks if the weather is accommodating. And if you’re experiencing depression, talk to your doctor for help.
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Finally, we have a few extra tips to help you stay safe this winter:
- Avoid strenuous activities like shoveling snow, which can be taxing on the body. If you must complete the activity, be sure to gently stretch beforehand and take frequent breaks.
- Purchase a moisturizing lotion to soothe dry and irritated skin.
- Place a sturdy rug near your front door so you can wipe off your wet shoes (and prevent slips).
- Consider carrying a personal emergency response system or a cell phone, so that you can quickly communicate with loved ones and contact medical professionals in an emergency.
Winter’s holidays are joyous and the snow can be lovely, but if you want to stay safe this winter, be sure to watch out for these winter hazards for seniors. With a little planning and some basic awareness, you can avoid the dangers of the season. Good luck!
Are you looking for an assisted living facility in the Midwest? Be sure to check out Hearthside Senior Living Place. We make it easy for seniors to avoid the wintertime blues! Each of our eight retirement communities is designed to prevent falls with carefully selected flooring and single-story buildings. Plus, we encourage community engagement with many activities, classes, and events, and we offer free and convenient transportation to all medical appointments. To learn more about our retirement communities, contact Hearthside Senior Living Place today.