Winter and Cold Weather Precautions for Seniors

Cold winter temperatures are as harmful as summer heat waves when it comes to the health of senior citizens. As a caregiver, you may worry what will happen to your parents in the event of a winter storm that knocks out electricity and when snow makes the roads impossible to drive on. If your parents or senior loved ones have
their home equipped with a Lifefone medical alarm system, once the power goes out, the battery backup kicks in and customer service is contacted. Having a home medical alarm system offers you and your loved ones peace of mind, regardless of the weather and distance between you.

Here are some items to check at your elderly loved one’s home to make certain they are taking care
of themselves once the frigid winter months kick in.

  • Make certain the thermostat is set to at least 65 degrees to help prevent hypothermia. Many seniors will feel more comfortable with the temperature a bit higher, but it shouldn’t go below 65. Common signs of hypothermia include: drowsiness, slow or slurred speech, memory loss, uncontrolled shivering and sense of exhaustion.
  • If the home is not well-insulated, you may want to consider covering the windows with inexpensive plastic sheeting to keep the wind from blowing in. Also plastic sheets will still allow sun to filter in and keep the home warm.
  • The home should be equipped with smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. These should be checked monthly to make certain they’re in good working order and batteries should be changed at least twice a year and also as soon as they begin emitting a low battery warning.
  • If the senior adults have access to supplemental heating such as a generator or kerosene heater, make certain they understand exactly how to operate it and that the house must be properly ventilated at all times when it is operation.
  • Unless it is crucial, they should remain indoors when there is a storm brewing or when the temperatures hover at or below the freezing mark.
  • Ensure that your loved ones have cupboards full of food and that their medications are up to date and filled. Additionally, stock up on foods that can be eaten without having to be cooked in the event of a power outage.
  • Make certain your loved ones have access to additional blankets in an easily accessible location so they don’t have to climb to reach them when the temperatures drop.
  • Test their medical alarm system to make certain it is working properly and that they are diligent in wearing the emergency alert bracelet or pendant in the event of a slip or fall.
  • Make arrangements for a neighbor to come and check on your loved ones in the event you live too far away and can’t get to the home in the event of an emergency. Also, make arrangements to have the sidewalk shoveled and the driveway cleared so they don’t have to worry about the feeling of being  “trapped.”

 By following these precautions, using a common sense approach to leaving the house, navigating winter roads and employing the services of a home medical alarm system offers peace of mind for everyone involved.

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