Winter, with its harsh weather and increase in illness transmission, presents additional challenges for seniors and caregivers. Nurse Rebecca Rushing from FirstLight Home Care shares 6 tips to help caregivers prepare seniors for a safer, healthier winter season.
The weather is still nice in many parts of the country, but soon enough we’ll be dealing with cold temperatures, snow, sleet, and rain.
The winter months can be challenging, especially when you are a caregiver, because this is a historically dangerous time for seniors.
According to Legacy.com, from 1980 to 2017, the most senior deaths in the United States occurred in the month of January.
Use these 6 tips to prepare yourself and your older adult for the winter season. Knowing that you’re helping them stay as safe and secure as possible gives you greater peace of mind.
1. Be vigilant about cleanliness
We’ve learned from the coronavirus pandemic, it’s that cleanliness is crucial for health.
Regularly washing hands thoroughly as well as regularly cleaning and disinfecting your older adult’s home reduces exposure to germs.
And if they live in an assisted living community, find out about the protocols staff are using to keep residents safe.
2. Use personal protective equipment to reduce the spread of illness
With or without Covid-19, using masks, hand sanitizer, and gloves in public is a good practice to continue, especially if you’re in close contact with your older adult.
While you’re out, you might come into contact with people who are carriers of illness or are ill themselves, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Using your personal protective gear reduces the risk that you’ll bring illnesses back to your older adult.
3. Practice safety protocols during the holidays
For many families, large gatherings during the holidays is the traditional way to celebrate. But this year, things may look a little different in order to keep everyone safe.
As a caregiver, you understand that seeing family will lift the spirits of your care recipient, but at the same time, you don’t want to risk exposing them to a highly contagious illness.
Discuss options and modifications with family to come up with a plan that balances tradition, fun, and safety.
For example, group video calls can be fun and heartwarming too, but don’t have the risk of close contact.
4. Prepare your vehicle for winter weather
If you use your vehicle to transport your older adult during the winter, have it serviced prior to winter’s harsh weather. Make sure tires, brakes, fluids, wipers, headlights, and taillights are in working condition.
As a caregiver, it’s also a good idea to keep a road trouble kit in your vehicle.
Stock it with essentials like water, a mobile phone battery charger, snacks, blankets, flares, flashlights, and extra batteries in case your car gets stuck.
5. Winterize their home
If your older adult lives independently in their own home, look for ways to prepare their home for cold weather.
Older adults are less able to withstand frigid temperatures, so have their heating system serviced before it gets too cold.
Check the weather stripping around doors and windows, make sure the gutters are free of debris, and the roof is secure.
Remove sickly or dead trees near the home to prevent them from falling on the home during storms and check that driveways, sidewalks, and walkways are in good condition.
6. Have an emergency plan
Create an emergency plan in case your older adult needs to be moved to another location during extreme weather.
Also, in case you are unable to be the primary caregiver due to your own illness or emergency, plan for a reliable and trustworthy family member or friend to take over for you.
To keep everyone on the same page, share the emergency plan with your older adult and other family members too.
And if needed, help your older adult become familiar with the back-up caregiver prior to an emergency to make the transition smoother.
Recommended for you:
- Coronavirus Thanksgiving: 6 Tips for a Safe, Fun, and Festive Holiday
- Best Way to Make Video Calls to Seniors with Alzheimer’s or Dementia in Nursing Homes
- Tips for Seniors and Caregivers to Safely Resume Activities in the “New Normal” of Coronavirus
Guest contributor: Rebecca Rushing, BSN, RN, is director of Client Care Services for FirstLight Home Care. Nurse Beckie is a Certified Dementia Practitioner, an Ageless Grace Educator, and a Positive Approach® to Care Independent Trainer. Beckie has more than 30 years of nursing experience and a passion for the well-being of older adults.
This article wasn’t sponsored and doesn’t contain affiliate links. For more information, see How We Make Money.