Northeastern United States is blessed with cold and snowy winters. While children love to run and jump in the snow, snowstorms can be a challenge for the elderly. Keeping seniors safe in the snow requires a bit of attention to detail.
Stay indoors and keep warm
Even active senior citizens should stay indoors and keep warm while there is snow falling or on the ground. Exertion in the snow can cause injuries or heart attack, especially for the elderly. The elderly don’t feel the cold as quickly as younger people, so they can’t control or regulate their body temperatures as well. Don’t wait for a senior to tell you he is cold; by then he may be freezing.
The elderly tend to forget to drink when it’s cold outside and may become dehydrated in the winter. Make sure they are drinking plenty of fluids, preferably hot ones like tea and soup. They should be dressed appropriately for the weather and should be wearing more layers than you are.
Heat the house
Although some seniors prefer to keep the heat off or low in order to save on heating costs, extreme weather conditions are not the time for frugality – the room must be sufficiently warm. It is recommended to heat the house to 68-75 degrees Fahrenheit. Purchase a room thermometer which tracks the temperature in the room so you don’t have to guess.
Make sure all heaters are safe to use. The safest heaters are electric. Be careful not to cover them or use them as laundry racks. Seal all windows and doors to keep heat in but leave a crack open somewhere to ensure ventilation.
Another way to keep warm in the cold weather is by moving around. This helps increase blood flow and raise body heat. Help seniors stay active by doing easy exercises or engaging in household chores such as cooking and laundry (keeping in mind their physical limitations, of course). Even a walk to the window to check out the falling snow can ward off the cold for a bit.
If you must go out
Sometimes you can’t avoid an outdoors trip even though there is snow on the ground or it’s really cold outside. If you must go out, make sure you and the senior are dressed warmly in many layers. Aside from a heavy coat, scarf, gloves and hat, you’ll need boots with a good grip to avoid slipping and getting hurt. Make the outdoor part of your trip as short as possible. Get a ride or take a cab so you’re not exposed to the elements for too long. When you get back home, make your senior a hot and filling meal and help him warm up.
The danger of exposure to cold and of hypothermia is particularly high for senior adults, so it’s extremely important to be vigilant and keep them warm at all times. Once they’re warm and toasty, they can enjoy the beauty of the snow and so can you!