When the season begins to change and the weather gets colder, caregivers must take extra precautions to keep their senior loved ones safe. Older adults can face seasonal challenges to their health when the weather changes. Caregiving has become difficult due to the extra precautions one has to take due to COVID-19. Cold related threats can be extremely harmful to a senior’s health and safety. With some extra diligence, precautionary measures, and basic guidelines, family caregivers can minimize the health risk to their senior loved ones:
Clearing safety hazards:
For seniors who have arthritis, they can generally experience stiffer joints when the weather gets colder. Even if your senior loved one manages to go out during the cold weather, it is important to clear their way because the sun begins to set earlier as days go by. If their pathway is not cleared, they can encounter fallen leaves and other safety hazards outside the house. Make sure the leaves are cleared from your driveway or around the property. Clearing their path can eliminate or reduce the risk of falls or slips. In the house, it is always recommended to keep the environment clean and put away any small items that may trigger a fall.
Helping or reminding your senior loved one to stretch a little before they head out can also be helpful. Stretching will allow them to warm up and it also helps with stiff muscles. You can read more about how to help someone up after a fall here.
Talk to the doctor:
According to CDC, adults aged 65 and over should get their flu vaccines each year. The flu shot is recommended for seniors because they are vulnerable to the risks associated with it. Some of the most common risk factors associated with flu include developing pneumonia, bronchitis, and ear infections. If your senior loved has asthma, their condition can be exacerbated by the flu and lead to other health complications. Similarly, the elderly who have advanced COPD can also suffer harmful risks due to the flu. It is best to talk to your senior loved one’s doctor and ask them which vaccination is better for them.
Stay warm and comfortable:
Hypothermia is one condition that is common among the elderly. Hypothermia is when an individual’s body loses heat faster than it produces it. The most common causes of hypothermia are exposure to cold-weather conditions or cold water. Seniors are also susceptible to hypothermia if they are not dressed appropriately or if they do not wear warm clothes. Keeping your senior loved one warm is crucial when the weather starts to get cold.
Whether your senior loved one is in a house or at a nursing home, helpful clothing items such as a bed jacket or cape can help them keep warm. If they feel their care home or nursing facility indoors are too cold, they can also keep their legs warm with a leg warmer.
Keeping skin moisturized:
Indoor heating and dry air can make your senior’s skin extremely dry. If they start getting tears or bumps on their fragile skin, they can also end of experiencing infections or bruises due to dryness. Keeping their skin moisturized with a fragrance-free moisturizer will help them feel comfortable whether they are indoors or outdoors.
Family caregivers can also remind their seniors to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Humidifiers can also keep indoor areas fresh and clean. Many humidifiers vary by size, caregivers can research and see which one would be optimal for their senior loved one.
Walking safety is crucial for seniors especially when they make night trips to the washroom. Nights can be colder than the daytime and wearing warm and slip-resistant shoes can be very helpful for them. Adaptive footwear design features are meant to ensure comfort and eliminate different safety hazards. They can be worn indoors or outdoors for comfort.
What are some of the features of adaptive footwear?
- Slip-resistant features eliminate chances of slips and falls
- Wide widths accommodate different levels of swelling
- Comfortable material is perfect for sensitive feet
- Easy touch fasteners are helpful for arthritic hands
- Large openings make it easy to slip the shoes on
- Heel and foot support propel the foot forward while walking
Family caregivers can minimize health risks associated with changing weather. If you are feeling overwhelmed or exhausted, reach out to your family members or caregiver support groups for advice or assistance.
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