Winter Warmth and Safety for Our Elders: A Caregiver’s Priority

December 18, 2009 at 6:08 pm Leave a comment

A major winter storm is heading up the East coast and could dump 20 inches of snow. Is your elder prepared? Many of our elders live alone and winter warmth and safety can be a big concern for caregivers and their loved ones.

 Have you ever noticed why some elders are so cool to the touch? As we age, our bodies don’t have the muscles it once had that helps to generate and maintain heat. Being thrifty is admirable, but sometimes it can be taken too far. Heat, fuel, supplies, proper insulation for their homes, and having a way to communicate or be rescued if things turn for the worse are all concerns that become a caregiver’s priority.

Keeping Your Elder Safe and Warm in Winter Weather: 

  1. If you live nearby, go and get them. No argument. If the weather has the potential to cause power outages ad road hazards, then they’re better off with you. You don’t want to not be able to reach them, worry that their power has been out for days, or that they’ve fallen. Just go to their house, get their meds, important info, and enough clothes and supplies for a week. Even if they fuss, part of them has to be relieved that someone is watching out for them.
  2. If you don’t live nearby, then have someone check on them every few hours. See if a neighbor or someone who lives close will take on this role. You need to know that they’re okay and winter circumstances can change rapidly.  This is when those community resources and contact numbers become crucial. If your loved ones winds up in a dangerous situation, let the authorities know so they can take them to a shelter.
  3. If your parent is still pretty able-bodied and lives on their own, then make sure they have an alternative heating method–in case the power goes out even for a few hours. Make sure they have enough gas or wood or portable heater to get them through. Some people like to have a generator. If you’re not near a city, then this is a must.  Do go over safety issues regarding carbon monoxide poisoning.
  4. Stock up on flashlights, candles, and a battery operated radio. Do this ahead of time and have it in a convenient place. While you’re on the phone with them, double-check that they have these supplies out for easy reach.
  5. Before the storm hits, encourage everyone including your elders to dress in layers and have your supplies nearby. Get out those extra blankets and be prepared.
  6. Have water and non-perishable foods on hand.
  7. Know where needed prescriptions or other medical devices such as oxygen are so you won’t have to hunt in the dark.
  8. Know the signs of hypothermia:
  • Confusion or sleepiness, slowed, slurred speech, or shallow breathing, weak pulse; low blood pressure, gray or off-color, shivering or no shivering; stiff arms or legs as hypothermia increases, or slow response to simple conversation or questions.

Caring for those we love becomes even more important and takes on a heightened level of awareness during the winter months when our elders, children and pets rely on us to keep them safe–and warm.

Entry filed under: caring for parents, elder care, family caregiving. Tags: , , , .

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Hi, I'm Carol O'Dell. This blog will include stories and lessons I've learned while caring for my mom, and now as I speak to caregivers around the country. I hope to offer suggestions, ideas and insights that will help others.

While this blog is supported by Dakim Brain Fitness, I’m not blogging to promote the Dakim company or products. Instead, I’m writing about how caring and being cared for affects your life and your family. My hope is that this blog gives you a place to learn, reflect, gain new perspective to make it another day.

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