Preparing Your Aging Loved One for Cold Weather

With fall in full swing, it is time to begin preparing your aging loved one for cold weather. While you likely want to savor the sun and not think about the prospect of being snowed in quite yet, it is crucial that you take these steps before everyone is scrambling for their necessary supplies.

Freezing temperatures have a substantial impact on individuals of all ages, of course, but seniors are far more susceptible to the cold than younger individuals. When one is cold, their heart pumps less effectively and their blood vessels constrict. Older adults, however, have reduced elasticity of their blood vessels and a thinning of fatty tissues in the skin. This impacts the preservation of body heat, which can eventually impact cardiovascular health.

Cardiovascular health is just one of many concerns for seniors in the winter. There are a wide array of conditions and medications that can impact one’s internal body temperature. Hypothermia is a major concern for seniors, too. Take these steps to ensure your elderly loved one is safe this winter.

Preparing Your Aging Loved One for Cold Weather

Address their safety in the home

Four walls and a roof isn’t enough to keep your loved one safe and warm. Make sure your loved one’s home is properly winterized now so you don’t have to worry about it when the truly frigid temperatures set in.

  • Check the heating system. This should be one of the first steps you take to winterize your senior loved one’s home. If the home does not reach the temperature you’d like it to, takes a long time to do so, or doesn’t even heat up in the first place, contact a professional as soon as possible.
  • Is the home drafty? Inspect all the doors and windows of the home for worn or cracked seals. Whether you address this problem on your own or with the help of a handyman, your loved one will not only benefit from a warmer home but a less expensive heating bill.
  • Identify the home’s warmest area. If you are already aware that your loved one is perpetually cold, consider setting up a “home base” in this area. Stock it with a comfortable chair and television. If this room happens to be a bedroom, consider moving them to it for the season.

Preparing your loved one

Once your loved one’s home is prepared for the winter weather, you can move on to their personal safety. Chances are that they already have a good chunk of the supplies they need, but it may be time to restock their essentials.

Is your aging loved one's home ready for winter?

  • Make sure they have enough layers. Look through your loved one’s supply of sweaters, pants, socks, and long underwear. Take stock of what they need and move what they have to an easy-to-access location.
  • Purchase no-slip socks, shoes, and slippers. These are accessories with additional traction that help your loved one avoid slips and falls. Advise them to take off their shoes once they come inside from snowy weather, as it will help them avoid tumbles.
  • Replace the tips on their canes and/or walkers. Canes and walkers have tips that give them good traction, but as time goes by they are bound to wear down. Make sure you replace them before the ice sets in.
  • Make a power-outage plan. Sometimes, winter storms can knock out power for a few hours or even a few days. Prepare a power-outage kit for your loved one that includes flashlights, battery-powered radios, blankets, and feet or hand warmers. Keep an easily-accessible supply of non-perishables and medication that will last several days.
  • Prepare a road kit. If your loved one still drives, prepare a survival kit should the roads get bad while they are out. This should include flashlights, bottled water, energy bars, blankets, warmers, and even road flares. You should also make sure their car’s battery, windshield wipers, and tire treads all look good.

Home care workers can ensure your loved one is safe this winter

As you start preparing your aging loved one for cold weather early, you should also consider the aid of a home care worker. An in-home care worker can help ensure your loved one is comfortable during the cold months by preparing hearty, warm meals, running errands for them, and acting as a companion.

Home Care Powered by AUAF has helped support families in the greater Chicago area for nearly 30 years. If you think your loved one would benefit from the help of a caregiver, give us a call at 773-274-9262. We would be happy to help.

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