Well today is the first day of winter but many of us have been “cold” for a while now. Seniors are especially sensitive to the cold so layer on the sweaters and blankets to keep them comfortable. Even mild hypothermia can be dangerous to seniors who account for 60 percent of hypothermia deaths.
During the cold winter months it’s especially important to bundle up your senior loved one. Even if they are in assisted living, make sure they have a cozy sweater and throw blankets to use at the foot of their bed and in their favorite chair.
Never take them out in the car without extra blankets and a muffler to put around their nose and mouth. I know this may sound weird, but cold air in the lungs can be harmful to those who suffer from different ailments like heart problems. A hat or cap is a must because we lose most of our body heat through our heads. Try to avoid taking them out while it’s raining or snowing. Getting wet will immediately put them at risk. If you have to take them out during wet weather, make sure to put them in a raincoat that has a head covering.
Warm heavy socks are a necessity for seniors. Their feet seem to stay cold even in warmer weather. My daddy will often double his socks to stay warm and he always wears warm house slippers inside. It’s good for seniors to have water resistant shoes to wear in the winter and the ones that cover their ankles can keep them extra warm. Many shoes now come with a thick fleece inside and personally, I love them!
If your older loved one lives alone, it’s really important to check on them often. Seniors who watch their pennies might also be watching how much energy they use to save those pennies. This is the reason many seniors keep their homes on the cold side. Energy companies often give discounts to lower income customers. It will be good to check into your local providers’ offerings to see if your senior qualifies. Encourage your senior to keep the house adequately warm and to set their thermostat between 68 and 70 degrees.
And while we’re talking about heaters, we all need to make sure ours and our loved ones’ heaters are working properly. Many time the gas and electric companies will send out a technician for free to check on your heaters. They will also inspect the insulation around doors, windows and in the attic. While pilot lights are now electronic, many seniors have much older models that need maintenance to work properly. A gas leak can be deadly, so look around your loved ones’ house for smoke and carbon dioxide detectors and check the batteries while you’re at it.
My own daddy uses a floor type heater next to his easy chair. The newer models are safer than older ones but the cords can still cause problems. Daddy keeps his heater an adequate distance from the wall and the outlet is right behind it. But some seniors will plug in the cords where they must step over them while going through the house. This can cause them to trip and fall. Some seniors will use a stand-alone heater in the bathroom. This can be very dangerous with water around. My parents had a heater lamp put in the ceiling which works really well to keep them warm after a shower.
My parents are really careful with most safety issues. Mama has one habit I’ve had to warn her about. She likes to heat up the kitchen by leaving one of her gas burners on her stove going. Her beautiful stove is almost as old as I am so if the flame blows out when she’s not in the room there’s going to be a problem. It’s hard to break a parent of a bad habit but I’ll keep on trying!