Aging in Place Safely During the WinterFeb 15, 2023
When it comes to aging in place — the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level — it is helpful to take a seasonal approach to manage risks. Whether you are an aging adult or a loved one of aging parents, reevaluating the living situation and preparing for the coming season, could save your loved ones from a fall or injury. Winter is one of the most crucial seasons to prepare for when aging in place. Here are a few tips to help you and your family be ready and stay safe.
Consider If You Need Help At Home
As we age, there are activities in our daily living that can become overwhelming, even more so during the holidays. Part of any good plan to age in place is a strategy for dealing with both short-term and long-term care. Whether you or your loved one is recovering from an injury or your spouse has dementia, you need to consider if you need someone to help you at home.
One of the most significant risks at home for aging adults is falls. Make sure your aging loved one has the tools and ability to manage their outdoor stairs and walkways. Create a plan together to have a family member help maintain their outdoor spaces in the winter. Make sure railings are sturdy and free from décor. As the days are shorter and we are spending more time in the dark, make sure that indoor and outdoor stairwells are well-lit. Check out our Solatube Daylighting Systems that bring in free, natural sunlight to brighten almost any room in the home.
For aging adults, there are many different situations that can present an emergency during winter. It is crucial to have a plan in place to address the what-ifs. Consolidate emergency contact information into one document and include utility companies. If PG&E or SMUD were to turn off the power, or the furnace to break, it is crucial to get help right away. In the event of a winter storm, or natural disaster, have a plan for gathering all family members. Talk to neighbors to help support one another. Keep a supply of water and nonperishable food. Make sure your loved ones would have their basic needs met for 3-4 days if they were unable to leave their house.
As we age, our body tends to have more difficulty retaining heat, and staying warm becomes more difficult. Dressing in layers will help the body acclimate, especially during transitions between indoor and outdoor environments. As we try to keep warm, it is important to maintain safety as well. If heaters are used, make sure they are a reasonable distance from the body or blankets as they can unintentionally burn items. If your loved one uses oxygen within the house, take extra precautions to keep open flames or cigarettes away from the tank and oxygen tubes. Changing the batteries in the smoke detectors and making sure your house has carbon monoxide detectors.