Seniors & Caregivers: 10 Ways to Prepare for Cold Weather

The leaves may still be golden, but the cold weather is right around the corner. Before it starts getting even chillier outside, here are 10 important steps to help seniors and caregivers prepare for snow and ice, and stay safe and warm all winter.

  1. Cold air can make anyone’s skin sore and dry, but this is especially true for seniors. To avoid painful cracks and tears, start regularly moisturizing, especially after you shower or wash your hands. It also helps to install a humidifier in your bedroom and drink plenty of fluids.
  2. Prepare for a power outage or broken heater. Make sure you have lots of blankets and warm clothes on hand, as well as candles, flashlights, canned food and bottled water.
  3. Seniors are at a higher risk for depression in winter than any other time of the year. No matter how cold it gets, make sure you still keep busy and active, and don’t forgo exercise or social events.
  4. Turn on your heater to make sure it is in working condition. If you need any repairs or replacements, it’s better to find out now, rather than when you need it for warmth.
  5. It’s always important to stretch and exercise regularly, but especially in the winter. Staying active and flexible during the cold months will improve your circulation and keep you warmer.
  6. Hire someone to keep your driveway, pathways and front steps shoveled and clear of ice, and keep a few bags of road salt on hand. By hiring someone now, you are guaranteed to be ready for the first snowfall and can often find a more competitive rate.
  7. You don’t want to be forced to go outside during a storm because you’ve run out of something important. Stock up on essential items in advance, such as food, medications and bottled water.
  8. Make sure you have the proper gear to go outside. Invest in warm, low-heeled boots with good traction, as well as a high-quality winter coat, scarf, mittens and a hat.
  9. Ice is especially dangerous for seniors. If you’re going for a walk outside, make sure to bring a cane or walker to help you keep your balance. If you can, ask a friend, loved one or caregiver to come with you.
  10. Be educated on the signs and symptoms of frostbite and hypothermia. Frostbite usually involves numb, waxy skin that has turned slightly grey, white or yellow. Hypothermia patients may feel confused, dizzy and sluggish, and have an irregular heartbeat, trouble breathing or slurred speech. If you suspect you might be suffering from either of these conditions, seek medical help immediately and keep warm.