It’s no secret that it is getting colder, especially here in Western North Carolina. The snow, ice and cold temperatures can make life challenging for anyone. Those slippery sidewalks and in general cold weather can caused a wide range of injuries and illnesses, especially for older folks.


It is important to consider potential threats both inside and outside the home and make proper preparations to ensure safety. While seniors that require in-home care frequently do not have family in close enough proximity to prepare for those harsh conditions meaning this work will be completed by caregivers and there are a multitude of common threats that caregivers can take to plan ahead to make sure your loved one’s home is fully equipped to handle the winter season.


Naturally, the cold weather pushes people indoors, it’s important to make sure your home is prepared for the season. Inspections and maintenance for furnaces and fireplaces should be scheduled to ensure everything is working properly and in safe conditions. Elders who have cardiac issues are more prone to health problems that can arise from being too cold, including dehydration. Setting your thermostat to the recommended 68 degrees will prevent these issues and with regular use of these heating methods, a few other potential dangers emerge. That being said, it’s also a good idea to keep fire extinguishers near all heating sources in case of any malfunctions along with: checking smoke alarms, installing carbon monoxide detectors on every floor and making sure they all work and have fresh batteries.


Caregivers, it’s also a good idea to keep emergency kits in case of a major winter storm causes power outages or strands them inside for an extended period without assistance. These winter emergency kits should include the necessities such as: batteries, flashlight, radio, warm blankets. Your home should be stocked with plenty of non-perishable food and bottled water to last for several days until normal in-home visits can be scheduled.


Other important considerations to prepare for are the other threats to senior’s health such as falls. Falls are one of the most prominent threats and with the winter months, it’s a good idea to keep non-slip mats inside to prevent falls that can be caused by your wet or snowy shoes and it’s also a good idea to keep your shoes on a mat to prevent water from accumulating in the walk-ways. For the outside of your home, keeping the maintenance on gutters and keeping them cleaned so it doesn’t cause any damages both internally and externally.


Because a majority of seniors avoid spending much time and are less active during the winter months, the lack of vitamin d becomes a greater risk of catching colds. Ensure that there are foods rich in vitamin D such as: beef, fish, milk, yogurt and breakfast staples like orange juice, egg yolks, oatmeal and cereal. Make sure that your loved one has attire that is proper for winter and keep them bundled in loose-fitting and layered clothing can help avoid hypothermia, pneumonia and bronchitis!


Taking the time to think ahead and make sure seniors are prepared and healthy for the winter months will not only help them, but relieve the stress on caregivers, family and friends!