Keeping seniors safe in winter weather

Seniors need extra attention during the winter months.

GRAND RAPIDs, Mich (WOOD) — It is still quite cold out, and the people most at-risk to the cold are young children and seniors.

Seniors, especially, often lack the support needed for combating the effects of the cold. It is important to make sure your loved ones who are seniors take the necessary precautions to stay safe in the winter.

First of all, make sure that seniors have a comfortable, warm home environment. The thermostat should always be set to at least 65 degrees, and warm layers, gloves and hats should be readily available at all times, even indoors.

There is always the potential for a winter storm to render a senior housebound, and it also increases the risk of car accidents.

Providing the senior with a disaster kit (containing food, water, a radio, first aid essentials and the senior’s medication) for their home and car will keep them safer in emergency situations.

More information on how to keep the senior (and you!) safe in an emergency weather situation can be found here.

Everyone is more likely to fall during the winter when ice makes the sidewalks, roads, porches and driveways more slippery. A fall can be seriously dangerous for an elderly person, so helping to shovel and salt the places where a senior will frequently walk is quite helpful.

You can also hire an outside service or encourage the senior’s neighbors to keep these areas clear. Avoid requiring the senior to shovel without any help.

The risk of dehydration is higher in the winter, as people are less likely to feel thirsty. Seniors are especially at risk, as they naturally eat and drink less than other people. Encourage your elderly loved ones to drink several glasses of water a day.

Even though space heaters can be a helpful way to fight the cold, it is important not to rely too much on them, as they can be a serious fire hazard if left on near flammable objects. Check the cords for frayed areas and keep clothes and papers away from the heater.

Also, make sure the house has a working carbon monoxide detector and smoke detector, especially if the heaters are gas-powered.

For more non-emergency services in the winter, contact United Way at 2-1-1.

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