Check on older adults during these cold, lonely winter months
The winter months can be fun, with travel and snow. But it can also bring slips, falls, and other health emergencies, including social isolation. For older adults, and those who care for them, it can truly be life-saving to be prepared for these winter events. It's a great time to remember to check in with older adult family members, friends and neighbors.
Here are a few considerations when helping older adults prepare for winter weather:
* The immune system weakens with age. Once flu season ramps up and the cold air blows in, it's much more important for older adults to visit their doctor if they become sick;
* Have back-ups for medical equipment. Make sure they have extra hearing aid batteries, glasses, and other medical supplies, such as oxygen;
* Be sure they have enough medicine to last for a week. Keep medications, copies of prescriptions, and treatment information in an emergency supply kit;
* Falls are the leading cause of injury among older adults in the U.S. Non-slip shoes are a great way to help them navigate slippery conditions; and
* Shoveling can put too much strain on the heart and be dangerous if individuals have problems with balance or osteoporosis. Older adults, especially those with heart disease or high blood pressure, should leave snow shoveling to others.
Social isolation is also a concern. According to
University of Chicago psychologist John Cacioppo,
the danger isn't necessarily solitude itself, but a feeling of little face-to-face connection and social engagement. Age-related health issues like hearing loss, incontinence or vision loss can increase this sense of senior isolation during winter.
How can you help? Cacioppo has a few suggestions:
- address any underlying health issues
- reach out to family, friends, and neighbors
- consider food delivery to avoid malnutrition
- help assure safe transportation to encourage getting out of the house when weather allows
- connect older adults with local services. You can call Senior Resources Options Counselors at 231-733-3585 Mon-Fri, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
It's always a good idea to have a communications plan. If you don't live near your older adult family members, make arrangements for neighbors to check in with them. Also, ask the neighbors if it's ok for older family members to contact them in an emergency. With your help, older adults can enjoy the winter months safely. Check out this FEMA
for more tips to help prepare older adults for emergencies.
*Information taken from FEMA and A Place for Mom