Winter can be a beautiful time of year in Michigan and Indiana. Snowy days spent inside by the fire are serene and peaceful. However, ice and snow can cause difficulties, especially for older adults.
Storms can knock out power. Icy roads might make it tough to get to the grocery store or pharmacy. That’s why it’s important for family caregivers to help their senior loved ones prepare for the months ahead. If you aren’t sure how and where to get started, we have a few useful tips.
Senior Safety: Preparing for Winter in the Midwest
- Create a snow removal plan.
Icy, snowy drives and walkways present a serious fall risk for older adults. According to the National Council on Aging, falls are a leading cause of injury among seniors. Before the worst of winter’s fury is upon us, make sure your loved one has a plan to keep their driveway and sidewalks cleared. If you aren’t able to assist them and don’t know a reliable contractor, call the local agency on aging. They often maintain a list of trustworthy companies.
- Stock the pantry.
The COVID-19 pandemic showed how essential it is to keep the pantry well stocked. Winter reinforces that need. Having a storm-ready pantry means your older loved one (and you!) can safely remain indoors when a winter storm is brewing. Pack a box of staples that should only be opened during an emergency. In addition to food and water, make sure it contains extra medication and any necessary medical supplies, flashlights, batteries, and food for pets.
- Inspect the furnace.
The danger of monoxide poisoning escalates in the winter. If you haven’t already checked the furnace, it’s not too late. Call a nearby furnace company to schedule an inspection. Make sure the house has a carbon monoxide detector in good working condition. Also test the smoke detectors. Fire prevention specialists recommend placing a smoke detector on every level of a home, as well as near bedrooms. Read Fire Prevention Tips Older Adults Should Know to learn more.
- Check vehicles.
If your senior loved one is still driving, review the condition of their car and confirm it is up to date with required maintenance. It’s easy to overlook simple tasks, such as an oil change, when you aren’t driving much. Make sure your family elder keeps a phone charger in the vehicle. Another good idea is to put together a bag with a flashlight, batteries, energy bars, bottled water, and a blanket or two. In the event your family member is stranded on the road in bad weather, they’ll have some supplies.
Finally, consider whether the senior is still a safe driver. For older adults who are nervous behind the wheel of a car, winter can be especially tough. Talking with an Older Driver about Hanging Up the Car Keys offers tips to initiate the conversation.
You might be surprised to discover that your loved one has become a reluctant driver, but isn’t sure what other option they have. In fact, transportation is one of the most utilized services offered by senior living communities. New residents may initially continue driving, but are soon willing to give up the expenses and worries associated with owning a car. Call the Heritage community nearest you to learn more about our transportation programs.