Winter can be a struggle for the elderly. The dip in temperature coupled with icy conditions can make it harder for them to keep warm and stay safe outdoors and in their homes.
To help grandparents, friends, and neighbours to stay safe, we’ve listed a few tips on how you can ensure they are warm, comfortable and free from injuries and illnesses this winter.
Dress for warmth
The elderly are at a greater risk of developing hyperthermia in the winter because of the drop in temperature. If you’re visiting grandparents, or elderly neighbours and friends, check to see if they have enough warm layers to wear and plenty of blankets, and ensure that their home is heated properly and is warm enough. Age UK recommends they keep their living room heated to 21°C or 70°F, and the bedroom to 18°C or 64°F to stay comfortable.
Check boilers and carbon monoxide detectors
Gas boilers, heaters, and fires can all lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. These appliances will likely be used more frequently during the winter, so it’s important to have them serviced annually by a qualified electrician and plumber and to check that the carbon monoxide and smoke detectors work properly.
Make sure steps and walkways are clear
Slips, trips and falls are common for seniors, especially during the winter when the roads are wet and icy. Unlike younger people, it can take longer for older people to recover from injuries sustained from a slip, trip or fall. To limit their risk of an accident, make sure that wet leaves are swept away from their walkways and steps. If they have icy steps, defrost the ice with boiling water and shovel snow to the side, or put grit or cat litter on the paths and driveways to stop them from slipping. If they are going to go outside, ensure they have sturdy footwear with a good grip to wear, and a cane if they’re unsteady on their feet, to make walking easier.
Plan ahead when driving
Driving can be more dangerous for anyone in the winter, but it’s especially hazardous for older people as their reflexes might not be as good as when they were younger. Make sure the car is prepared for icy and wet weather conditions by ensuring windscreen wipers, defrosters and lights work; check that the tyres’ tread depth is correct and there is enough grip to prevent the car from skidding. It’s also worth keeping an emergency kit in the car, which includes an ice scraper and de-icer, torch, spare batteries, warm clothes and blankets, food and drink, and a hi-vis jacket, in case of a breakdown.
Everyone can get the flu jab, but it’s particularly important for adults over the age of 65 to get vaccinated as their immune system can’t fight off germs and infections as well as younger people. Everyone over the age of 65 is entitled to a free flu jab, so if you know anyone who is 65 or above, make sure they are booked in for one.
Look after each other
Make time to check in on elderly family members, neighbours and friends who are less mobile and find it harder to get around during the winter. Check to see if they have everything they need, including medication, food, and warm clothing to stay safe this winter, especially when the weather forecast issues bad weather warnings.
These are just a few tips to help you care for the elderly and ensure they are safe during the winter months. However, the key to making sure they are safe is to be prepared, so they have everything they need for whatever weather is coming.
Author bio: Thompsons Solicitors is one of the UK’s leading personal injury law firms. We only stand up for the injured, never for employers or insurance companies.