Michigan winters are particularly challenging for seniors and caregivers. Cold, snowy months increase the risks of falls, fires, and isolation. Caregivers can take the following steps to help older adults prepare for winter storms.
Helping a Senior Prepare for a Michigan Winter
Prepare homes for winter.
When tackling winter preparedness for a senior loved one, caregivers should have homes checked for safety hazards and maintenance issues:
- Windows can be sealed and weatherproofed to prevent drafts and keep heating bills low.
- Check furnaces, air filters, and water heaters to make sure they are working properly. Decide how you will tackle snow removal, such as purchasing a snow blower, keeping a snow shovel on hand, or hiring a neighbor to help clear driveways.
Reduce potential fire hazards.
Older adults are at higher risk for injury in a home fire than younger adults. Take extra precautions to ensure safety:
- Check that electrical cords are in safe condition.
- Make sure smoke and carbon monoxide detectors have fresh batteries.
- Use extra regular blankets, not an electric blanket as it can be a fire hazard.
- Consider replacing traditional candles with “flameless” varieties.
- Dispose of trees, wreaths, and other holiday greenery that has dried out.
Keep vehicles in good shape.
Both seniors and caregivers may want to have their cars serviced as soon as possible.
- Maintain oil and antifreeze levels.
- Keep gas tanks full to prevent ice in the fuel lines.
- Make sure that the car’s windshield wipers, brakes, battery, and radiator are in good shape.
- Check the tread on the vehicle’s tires, and have the tires replaced if necessary.
- Keep emergency supplies in the car, including a flashlight or flares, jumper cables, and a first-aid kit.
Create a home emergency preparedness kit.
With a basic emergency kit, older adults can stay safe even in the worst weather and loss of power. Keep these items in a place where your loved one can reach them quickly and easily.
This kit might include:
- Bottled water
- A thermal blanket
- Non-perishable foods
- A flashlight with spare batteries
Since telephone “land lines” are more likely to be damaged in a snowstorm, consider giving your loved one a prepaid cell phone loaded with emergency numbers.
Dress warmly and appropriately.
When dressing for winter, the key phrase is “loose layers.” These layers create air pockets that help insulate from the cold, especially on windy days.
Remove snowy shoes when you come inside, and be sure to change out of clothes that have become damp. This not only keeps you warmer, but helps prevent slippery conditions that can lead to falls. Look for shoes that have good traction and non-skid soles.
For seniors with dementia, winter weather can increase anxiety and the tendency to wander. Caregivers might want to consider a tracking device to help find a loved one who becomes lost.
Get peace of mind in winter weather.
At Heritage Senior Communities, our caring staff members provide services and support that improve a senior’s quality of life year-round, in all weather.
Wellness checks, social activities, medication assistance, and housekeeping are just a few of the amenities we offer at our locations. Visit us online to learn more about Heritage Senior Communities and what type of residence is right for your loved one.
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