The winter can be one of the most beautiful times of the year, but it can also have erratic weather with freezing storms and heavy snowfall. Seniors need to take extra care during the colder months when daily activities can be impeded by the weather. As cold temperatures and a polar vortex have descended upon most of the U.S. this winter, here are five tips for staying safe and warm.
When temperatures are at or below freezing, exposed skin is extremely vulnerable to frostbite within just a few minutes. Seniors who are heading outdoors should be sure to dress properly to protect against the cold. Areas that are most vulnerable and susceptible to frostbite include the face, nose, ears, fingers and toes. Cover these areas with enough layers before walking outdoors. If temperatures are below freezing, it is best to avoid going outside if possible or to limit the amount of time spent outdoors. Layers are the best way to protect against heat loss and wetness. The layer closest to the body should be a synthetic material, as natural materials cotton do not dry if they become wet and can increase body heat loss.
Watch out for ice
One of the biggest dangers of winter is icy sidewalks and driveways. Getting around can become challenging when the road and walkways become slick. Winter falls are very common for seniors and can cause serious injury. To prevent from falling, wear shoes that have good traction and can grip icy surfaces. Replace cane tips when they become worn and take off shoes immediately after coming indoors, as melted snow and ice can make it slippery indoors.
Fight the winter blues
Another winter problem for many people is seasonal affective disorder. With limited sun exposure and short days, some experience symptoms of depression during the winter. Because it is more difficult for seniors to get around during the winter, seasonal affective disorder can kick in from a feeling of isolation. To ward off the winter blues, family and friends should check in with seniors frequently. A healthy diet and regular exercise can also help improve a person's mood.
Winter storms can occur without much warning and sometimes leave people stranded at home. If the power were to go out, it is important to be prepared with flashlights and batteries. A radio is another good item to have at home in case of a power outage. Without heat, stay warm by wearing many layers and keeping warm blankets on hand.
Check your car
For seniors who drive, winter can cause some challenges to vehicles. It is important to check all vehicle fluids before heading out on the road. Getting a car serviced before the winter season hits is a good idea for most drivers. If weather conditions make visibility an issue, waiting it out can be a safe way to go.
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