Caregiving and Cold Weather
As we age, we are more at risk for injury during extreme weather conditions, like the cold. Cold weather puts many people across the country at risk because of slippery conditions and the increased likelihood for falls. When the weather is cold, our muscles are less elastic and falling may cause serious sprains. Older individuals are especially at risk for falling, resulting in sprains, fractures, and other serious injuries. ElderCare at Home wants to remind you of safe practices if you are a caregiver responsible for an aging loved one. There are also other necessary precautions to take if your loved one has a degenerative neurological disorder, like Alzheimer’s.
Consider these tips:
- Stay Warm/Dress for the Weather: During the cold seasons, we are more susceptible to sicknesses, like the common cold. This is because our blood vessels constrict in cold weather, and the antibodies in our bloodstream cannot respond to virus and bacteria as efficiently, as if they are caught in a traffic jam. So, it is important that we bundle up to keep our bodies warm. Ensure that your loved one is comfortable and cover any exposed areas that are sensitive to the cold, like extremities (legs, hands, head, etc.). Dressing for the weather is essential to prevent other serious conditions, like hypothermia. Lastly, keep inside temperatures warm—around 68 to 74 degrees.
- Prevent Falls and Wandering: You can prevent falls in a number of ways. One way is to ensure that you and your loved one are wearing slip-resistant shoes, especially if you live in areas where snow and ice are a common occurrence. Secondly, if your loved one has Alzheimer’s or any other related dementia, they may be at risk for wandering. It is essential that you be aware of any possibility of your loved one leaving the house. Your loved one may wander for any reason, like if they believe they have to fulfill former obligations like work or if they are trying to find something. The moment they get lost it can be very disorienting for them and difficult for you to find them. Additionally, if they are out on their own, they could risk hurting themselves, especially if conditions are slippery. To prevent this, consider purchasing a tracking device if you think wandering may be a problem. And try to prevent wandering as much as possible, by keeping doors closed and watching over your loved one with care. You cannot control every waking moment, so just try to be aware of preventative measures you can take in your house and ways to find them if they ever do get lost.
- Keep Active: Sometimes, cold weather means staying indoors and not doing anything physically active. There is a balance between assessing the risk of going outside to do things and staying inside to stay warm/safe. If you choose to stay inside, try to find activities that provide you with some light activity. For example, if your loved one can help you with some chores around the house, try to get those done rather than staying seated on the couch all day. It is healthier to keep your body moving than to keep still.
If you have any other questions about weather safety tips, please call ElderCare at Home at 888-285-0093 or visit our website.