It snowed!!! In North Carolina!!!
Even though we live in the South, it is not actually that uncommon for us to get snow in mid to late January through February and occasionally even into March. Of course, snowstorms down here tend to consist of about 1 to 4 inches of snow that put our state in a true freeze where schools and businesses are closed until every bit of ice and snow has melted. Ok, maybe that’s an exaggeration….maybe.
No matter where you live though the winter months can be harsh for our senior citizens and people with disabilities. The same snow and ice that younger people find exciting and fun can be dangerous and scary for our elders. It is important that they be prepared and well taken care of in winter weather to prevent unnecessary injury, illness, and even death.
Here are some things that can be helpful in preparing our senior loved ones for winter weather:
- Make sure that their home is ready for any emergency situation. Winter weather is typically predicted with a few days of warning, so there is time to help everyone prepare. Go through the home and strategically place flashlights (with fresh batteries) in places they will be easily found. Wash all the blankets and warm clothes that you can to help them stay warm in case of a power outage. Chop firewood and put it in a place where the weather will not dampen it and it is easy to get to, remember to chop the firewood into pieces that are manageable for the person who will be making the fire. Make sure that they have enough canned food (preferably that they enjoy or at least tolerate) and bottled water for a few days, as well as a manual (non-electric) can opener. Salt their driveway, walkways, and stairs for them. Help them get refills of medication and any toiletries they may need if they end up getting stuck at home for a while.
- Help them prevent unnecessary illness. Make sure they bundle up if they need to go outside when it’s cold. Encourage them to stay indoors on very cold or wet days. Help them make sure they have access to all of the foods they need to maintain a healthy diet. Remind them to keep up with doctor appointments. Remind them of the importance of staying hydrated and exercising. Help them find exercises that they can still do indoors on cold or wet days. Make sure they are up to date on their vaccinations. Stay away from them if you are sick, even a slight cold for a healthy adult or child can become something deadly for an elderly loved one.
- Watch them for signs of illness. Winter is notorious for bringing illness along with it. Watch your loved ones for signs of upper respiratory illness. Things like prolonged coughs or colds, unusual amounts of sneezing not due to allergies, fever, and of course respiratory distress should be checked out by a medical professional as soon as possible. Some of the more common and dangerous winter illnesses are pneumonia, RSV, influenza, and now COVID-19.
- Make sure that if they have to drive they are prepared for an emergency in their car. Make sure they have at least one blanket and some snacks and bottled water in their car, where they can reach it (backseat, passenger side, under seats) and not in the trunk in case they are unable to access their trunk in an emergency. Also make sure they have a flashlight with fresh batteries, a whistle, and a change of clothes in case they get wet. Make sure there is a working phone charger in the car and try to remind them to charge their phones prior to traveling in winter weather. Also encourage them to carry some extra cash around in case they need it, you never know. Last but not least, make sure that they have access to all important phone numbers in the car with them, written down in case their phone does not work or is not charged and they have to use someone else’s phone or a pay phone.
Stay safe, enjoy the winter weather, and take care of each other. Here are a few websites with more tips and information to help keep us all safe this winter.