One day the temperatures are rising high enough to use the air conditioner all day, the next they’re plummeting low enough to use the heater full-blast. That’s autumn here across the Rocky Mountain region. It’s unpredictable, but we’re used to it.
If you’ve lived here long enough, you know how to adjust to the changes. You wear layers in the morning. You keep your windows closed even if you’re only leaving the house for a short period. You may have even automated your home, making your home’s temperature controls available on your mobile device. Whether you need to cool things down or warm things up, it’s only one push of a button away.
That works for you. But that can be difficult for older adults, especially if they are vulnerable. According to the Center for Disease Control, winter weather takes its toll on this part of the population, increasing their risk of dying from weather-related events. Elderly have thinning skin and often have less body fat, making them vulnerable to frostbite. They are less likely to sense the cold, meaning they are more susceptible to cold related injury.
Whether you just check in on your parents every once in a while, or are their 24 hour of the day caregiver, there are a few things you should do to get ready for the winter.
Dress In Layers
We all develop a sense of style along life’s way. Your loved one might still prefer dresses when she goes out, or even inappropriate shoes for winter conditions. While you might not be able to talk her out of all of it, you can offer more appropriate selections. Make a day of it; go shopping and out to lunch. If she has to have a dress, add a sweater to go with it. Have her try on boots as well as shoes. Invest in warm slippers with a non-slip sole. And if you can’t go out, order in. Many places online make ordering and returning easy.
If your loved one has a pattern such as going to the store every day, consider stocking up on the things they use most. If they like to run up to the coffee shop, consider buying an easy-to-use coffee pot and gourmet coffee for them to use in emergencies. If they run out to pick up pet supplies often, create a stash of supplies they can draw from in emergencies – canned food, cat litter, or absorbent pads can all be stored indefinitely.
Have A Plan
Sometimes the power goes out and doesn’t come back on for hours. This can put your loved one at risk. If you can’t get there, who can? It’s good to have people as your backup plan. While neighbors are a good resource, ensure you have someone outside the neighborhood in the event of widespread power outages. While a neighbor is a good choice to ensure they stay warm and won’t fall if they go out, it’s important to always have someone available who can jump in and help in an emergency.
Check The House and Car
If you observe both the inside and outside of your loved one’s home in the autumn, you’ll find potential hazards before they become more. Are pipes exposed? Take action to avoid burst pipes. Who will keep the sidewalks shoveled? Hire a neighbor to get it done before your loved one rises. If they do drive, ensure they have a good set of tires.
Do you know how often they receive their prescriptions and from where? If they can’t get out of the house for a week, do they always have enough on hand? Are they stored correctly if the temperatures in the house dip low? Consider setting up prescriptions to be mailed to their home. Be sure they always have at least a week supply to ensure they never run out in an emergency.
What other winter tips do you have to ensure your loved one stays safe all winter long?