With thorough knowledge and planning, you can help your senior client stay ahead of winter’s worst.
As people age, they become more susceptible to injuries and health conditions that can occur in cold weather. Aides who provide in-home care for the elderly in Little Rock should feel a sense of responsibility to ensure that their clients are cozy and comfortable. You can follow these eight winter wellness tips for seniors to help your companion stay safe, healthy, and happy throughout the winter months.
1. Create a Warm Winter Wardrobe
Over time, a senior’s metabolism slows down and they experience poor blood circulation. These biological changes place them at higher risk for winter health issues, such as hypothermia and frostbite. You can prevent these conditions by providing well-insulated clothing for your senior to wear if they are venturing outside. A down jacket, wool socks, thick gloves, scarf, and hat all provide much-needed protection from the frosty temperatures. During extreme cold spells, minimize your senior’s time outdoors and watch for signs of overexposure to the cold, such as heavy breathing or coughing.
2. Stock up Before Storms Hit
Heavy snow and ice can cause power outages and make travel to the store dangerous or even impossible. Stockpiling emergency supplies can help you and your senior ride out the storm safely. Bottled water, nonperishable foods, warm clothing, and flashlights are all essential for winter preparedness. If winter weather prevents you from providing in-home care for an elder, contact their neighbor or the police to check on their well-being and ensure they have access to the items they need.
3. Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Space heaters, fireplaces, and other heating devices can create dangerously high levels of carbon monoxide, a toxic, odorless gas. Because the elderly are more susceptible to carbon monoxide poisoning, you must make sure the carbon monoxide detectors in your senior’s home are functioning properly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you should replace the batteries in detectors every spring and fall and have technicians service your senior’s heating appliances once a year.
4. Minimize Chances for Slips and Falls
Falls are the leading cause of injuries for seniors, according to the National Council on Aging. This danger increases during winter, with frozen walkways posing major slip-and-fall hazards. Make sure your senior wears sturdy, high-traction shoes, and fit canes with new tips before heading outside in slippery conditions. Elbow and knee pads can also help minimize the risk of injury to sensitive joints in case a slip or fall occurs.
5. Keep the Flu at Bay
The CDC has documented that people over the age of 65 are at greater risk for serious flu complications than the rest of the population. Because your senior’s immune system grows weaker with age, you should prioritize an annual flu shot as winter approaches. Pharmacies provide a “high-dose vaccine” for the elderly with four times as much flu-fighting antigen as the regular shot. There are additional winter wellness tips for seniors that can reduce their chances of getting sick. Your client should wash their hands often, avoid people who are sick, and seek medical attention immediately if they develop flu symptoms.
6. Ensure Sufficient Vitamin D Intake
Numerous studies link low levels of vitamin D to a heightened risks of high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke. Vitamin D also facilitates calcium absorption, making it vital for reducing the risks of bone and joint injury. Getting adequate vitamin D is easy during warmer months; a brief walk under the warm rays of the sun is all your senior needs. However, the chill of winter can make it harder for the elderly to meet their daily vitamin D requirements from sun exposure alone. Foods such as salmon, shrimp, and fortified dairy products can help the elderly meet their vitamin D quota, as can vitamin D supplements. Consult with your senior’s doctor or dietician for professional advice on a winter diet.
7. Encourage Regular Exercise
Exercise is vital for both physical and mental well-being. Regular physical activity helps maintain healthy lungs, bones, muscles, and an array of cognitive functions that otherwise tend to decline with age. Whether it is a brief outdoor walk, an indoor workout session, or a group exercise class set to upbeat music, moving around is vital for people of all ages. Because exercise stimulates the production of endorphins that can improve a senior’s mood, those who stick to a healthy routine tend to have more energy and feel better during the cold winter months.
8. Keep in Touch
Winter can create feelings of isolation and depression for seniors, especially those who live alone. Visit your senior often and, if possible, arrange visits with their family and friends. If distance is an issue, organize regular calls, emails, or video chats with loved ones. You can also recruit neighbors to provide a network of care and support.
If you are caring for an elderly loved one and would like to learn more about elder care services in Little Rock, contact Integrity, Inc. at 501-406-0442. We can help you set supportive goals for your loved one and determine the right care plan.