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Getting Your Loved One's Home Ready For Winter

  • December 9, 2018
Getting Your Loved One's Home Ready For Winter

Wintertime can be a nice change after the blisteringly hot days of summer, but between the freezing temperatures, heavy snowfall and the increased risk of house fires or power outages, this time of year comes with many safety hazards for elderly living alone. It’s important for seniors and their caregivers to take extra precautions during this time of year to ensure their health and safety throughout the cold weather. We’ve compiled some winter safety tips for seniors that can help ensure you make it through the winter in good health.

Winter Wellness Tips For Seniors

Winter wellness goes beyond making updates inside and outside of the home in order to stay safe. Winter wellness tips for seniors need to take their physical health into account as well. Hypothermia is a major concern as we age since our bodies lose the ability to regulate our temperature. Hypothermia is a serious condition in which your body temperature drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit, damaging your heart, nervous system and other central organs. In order to prevent hypothermia, it’s important that older adults follow the weather so that they can be prepared and dress properly for the elements.

Seniors also should make sure to get their flu shot to help them ward off the flu, which has been extremely strong the past few years. The flu can have a severely negative impact on senior health, leading to complications such as heart attack, stroke, and pneumococcal pneumonia.

Winter Safety Checklist for Seniors

When it comes to winter safety tips for seniors, here is a helpful winter safety checklist that can help you and your loved ones stay safe through the colder months.

Power Outages. Should the surrounding area be affected by a power outage, check in on your loved one frequently and if possible, insist that they stay with you until power is restored -- that way you know for sure that they are safe. In anticipation of losing power, be sure that your home, or your loved one’s home is fully stocked with:

  • Blankets

  • Flashlights with extra batteries

  • Bottled water

  • A fully-stocked first aid kit

  • A backup supply of medications

  • A battery-operated radio

  • A loud whistle or bell

Avoiding Slips in the Snow. Ice and snow can create one of the biggest safety hazards for seniors during the winter months. A slip-free winter safety checklist for seniors includes:

  • Plan ahead. Use rock salt on your loved one's driveway and walkways before a storm hits to help melt the snow as it falls. Your loved one should also carry a small bag of rock salt with them once the storm is over to give them more traction on icy pathways.

  • Stretch regularly. Doing light stretches before going outside will help your loved one be more steady on their feet. It’s also a key step in preventing hypothermia.

  • Clothing matters. Layers are important, but make sure your loved one’s clothing fits them properly and isn’t too bulky or restricting -- this increases their risk of having an accident.

  • Add support. Your loved one can avoid slipping in the snow by wearing boots with nonskid soles. Using a cane or walker will also give them extra support, but they should dry the tips off after coming inside.

Reducing the Risk of Falls At Home. Although the winter does bring more attention to dangers lurking outside of the home, it’s just as imperative to mitigate any fall risk that can happen inside of the home.

  • Get rid of clutter. Remove tripping hazards, such as area rugs, electrical cords, books, magazines and anything else lying on the floor.

  • Lighten up. Once the days get shorter after Daylight Saving Time ends, the dim lighting makes it much harder for your loved one to navigate their home safely. Add extra lamps and nightlights so your loved one can see clearly, day or night.

  • Reduce slipping hazards. Since it’s easy for snow to get inside your loved one’s home, make sure the floor is dry and place non-slip mats in the bathroom, kitchen and near the front and back doors.

  • Add support on stairs. To give your loved one extra support on stairs, add sturdy railings and non-slip treads to each step.

Removing Fire Hazards in the Home. Fires can happen, even in cold weather. Use these winter safety tips for seniors to prevent a fire from breaking out in your home:

  • Be careful with space heaters. Since space heaters are a common cause of house fires, keep them at least three feet away from anything flammable.

  • Don’t smoke cigarettes indoors. Remind your loved one that they should never smoke in bed, let alone indoors.

  • Update smoke alarms. Check the smoke alarms in your loved one’s home so they don’t have to worry about getting on a stepstool and possibly losing their balance.

  • Use precaution with open flames. Place a protective screen on the fireplace, and remind your loved one that they should never leave a flame unattended.

In addition to removing these fire hazards, you should also help your loved one create a fire emergency plan. When a house fire occurs, your loved one only has two minutes to evacuate, but having this plan in place will help them get to safety quickly.

Guaranteed Protection Year-Round

These winter wellness tips for seniors will help to reduce the risk of danger or injury this season, but they cannot completely prevent emergencies from occurring. Find peace of mind in knowing that you or your loved one has access to immediate help with a Medical Guardian medical alert device. We offer guaranteed protection, no matter the season, and can send help right away, regardless of what type of emergency might befall you.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Hilary Young is a health and wellness expert that specializes in both senior life and caregiving. She'd love to hear more about your thoughts on aging, healthy living, and caregiving, and you can find her on Twitter at @hyoungcreative to start the conversation.


KEYWORDS: Winter safety checklist for seniors, winter safety tips for seniors, winter wellness tips for seniors, winter safety