Winter brings plenty of opportunities for fun and spending time with family. Along with the fun, the colder temperatures should be a reminder to keep winter safety a priority for seniors. Are you prepared to help keep your loved ones safe when the winter months arrive?Winter safety for seniors is a serious topic that doesn’t get enough attention from families. Here’s what you should be doing to keep your elderly loved ones safe this winter. Click To Tweet
Winter Safety for Seniors
In the Houston area, we rarely have to worry about risks like ice or snow making roads unsafe. However, inclement weather is far from the only risk winter poses to the elderly. Keep these strategies in mind as you plan your loved ones’ care this winter:
- Stay up to date with vaccinations
- Keep the house bright
- Encourage socialization
1) Stay Up to Date with Vaccinations
Winter brings plenty of viruses to which seniors are particularly vulnerable. While your loved ones should stay up to date on every vaccine available to them, perhaps the most crucial is the flu vaccine. Even a mild case of the flu makes an otherwise healthy person miserable for several days. An older and potentially immunocompromised adult is at a significantly higher risk for severe complications from contracting the flu. The best way to stay safe is to get your elderly loved ones vaccinated against influenza.
Pro Tip: Talk with your senior family members’ doctor about which vaccines are recommended for winter. In addition to the flu shot, there may be another virus your loved ones need immunization against.
2) Keep the House Bright
The late sunrises and early sunsets brought on by winter can affect a person’s mood dramatically. For most people, this effect takes the form of seasonal depression, also known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This condition is exhibited by symptoms very similar to clinical depression, though it typically vanishes after winter ends and the days get longer. Fortunately, your senior loved ones can treat their seasonal depression through light therapy. This type of therapy involves using a lightbox, a device that emits natural light and tricks the body into believing the sun is still out. This treatment has been shown to be very effective when done correctly.
If your senior loved ones are fortunate enough to not struggle with seasonal depression, there’s another potential risk you should watch for: Sundowner’s Syndrome, sometimes simply called sundowning. This behavior affects patients with Alzheimer’s or dementia and generally involves anxiety, confusion, and pacing. While the exact cause is unknown, doctors generally believe that sundowning is triggered by early sunsets throwing off a senior’s internal clock and magnifying the symptoms of their dementia. As with other forms of dementia treatment, the best strategy is to establish a definite evening routine and stick to it consistently. Lightboxes can also help here too as they lessen the impact of an early sunset. Like SAD, sundowning generally manifests during the winter and, with proper treatment, will dissipate when spring comes.
3) Encourage Socialization
Aging already feels isolating for many seniors as they need assistance to travel or spend time with friends. Cold weather can only make the situation worse as uncomfortably cold temperatures or potential snow make travel unpleasant. You have a few different options to help with feelings of isolation. Arrange transportation to senior-specific social events so your loved ones can spend time with their peers and not have to worry about driving themselves. Alternatively, simply spend more time in their home with them and encourage their friends to visit. Whether they socialize at home or elsewhere, make sure they have plenty of chances to see other people.
Care for Your Elderly Loved Ones this Winter
The cool weather Houston experiences during the winter months is sometimes the most pleasant weather we get all year. Why not take advantage of it? Encourage your senior family members to care for their physical and mental health this year so they can enjoy the cool temperatures safely.
Connect with us for more strategies on winter safety for seniors.