The freezing temperatures of a Canadian winter can certainly be challenging. Keeping seniors safe and healthy, especially those already suffering from chronic medical conditions or living in poorly insulated homes, can be a worry. So, it’s time to take a few simple precautions to transform the Big Chill into a winter wonderland to enjoy.
Getting prepared before winter sets in is recommended, but it’s never too late to make a difference!
Renew caulking and weather-stripping on doors and windows. Invest in new insulating window curtain panels or drapes that keep cold air out and keep the heat in. Ensure your HVAC or heating system is well maintained and working properly, and if required, change your furnace filters to improve efficiency.
Make an emergency plan
Ice storms and heavy snowfalls can knock out power at this time of year. So, take measures for unexpected power outages including battery-powered flashlights that are easy to find in the dark. If your flashlights are showing their age, new generation LED torches give a clear bright light and are much more power efficient. Talk your emergency plan through with friends and family and prepare an emergency kit.
Commit to caring
If you have older neighbours or relatives, check on them regularly throughout the winter season. Make sure they are warm and have adequate food, clothing and fuel in stock.
Staying safe & well this winter
Sudden changes in winter temperatures can take us all by surprise sometimes. Before braving the elements:
1) Wrap up
The number one rule! Layers are best. No part of the body should be left exposed. Hats and gloves are a must, and use a scarf to cover your mouth and nose.
2) Know your limits
Seniors should avoid prolonged periods outside in extremely cold weather. Anyone with heart disease and other circulation problems is particularly at risk of frostbite in cold weather.
It’s good to know the first signs of frostbite. If the skin turns red, dark or starts to hurt, it’s time to go indoors. Excessive shivering and cold skin which is pale or ashen in colour could be the first signs of hypothermia. Other symptoms include general weakness and sleepiness, a lack of coordination, mental confusion, plus slowed breathing or heart rate. Always call 911 if you suspect someone has hypothermia.
3) Fall prevention
Be cautious of snow and ice when walking outside. Use sand or an ice-melter on the walkways around your home to limit slippery conditions. Do the same for senior relatives and neighbours, or share the cost of professional snow clearance. If you are venturing farther afield, keep to the designated paths. Better still, ask a friend to join you. Not only will you have some company but, in case of emergency, help is immediately on hand.
4) Avoid driving
If you need to drive in bad weather, always check the road conditions before you go out. Use winter tires, ensure your gas tank is full, and keep a safety kit in your car. It’s also a good idea to let somebody know where you are going and when you expect to be back home, just in case.
5) Keep cozy indoors
Dress in layers and drink plenty of hot drinks. Try to maintain an ambient temperature of 20-22C (68-72F) in your home, particularly important for seniors with reduced mobility.
6) Avoid heat hazards
Check your smoke alarms regularly, and keep a fire extinguisher nearby. Keep any fuel burning equipment such as furnaces, water heaters, boilers, stoves and other appliances maintained, and install a carbon monoxide detector. Never leave a fire or portable heat source unattended.
7) Banish the blues
Winter depression is common amongst seniors, especially with the longer hours of darkness and lack of sunlight causing a lack of Vitamin D. Spending a little time outside in bright winter sunshine (especially with friends and family) is a great way to top up with some vitamin D. For an extra hit of ‘happy’, choose a diet rich in milk, grains, and seafood like tuna and salmon.
8) Stay free from flu
Annual flu vaccines are strongly recommended for persons aged 65+. Most vaccination programs begin in the autumn, but if you missed having it done, a flu shot now in January may protect against late winter outbreaks or being given the virus by someone else.
Taking the worry out of winter
At the Manor Villages, we provide an elegant Lifestyle Experience® for those wishing to live an independent, active and rewarding lifestyle, without the worry of maintaining a home. We offer an emergency call system, 24-hour staffing and a range of in-house health care professionals. Our team work all winter long to keep our car parks and paths free from snow and ice, and our senior living communities are always warm and cozy too!
So, why not take the worry out of your winter? Book your personalized visit to any of our Calgary senior living communities today.