3 Winter Safety Tips for Seniors
Here in upstate New York, cold weather and big temperature swings are a fact of life. Many of us have grown up coping with unpredictable weather over long winters. Yet, as we age, there are increased risks associated with low temperatures, icy sidewalks and slick roads that we may not have had to consider when we were younger. Here are five risks seniors face in the wintertime, and tips for how to mitigate them.
It sounds extreme, but hypothermia isn’t just something mountaineers hiking Mount Everest get. Older adults lose body heat faster than younger people, and serious health problems can arise at temperatures well above freezing, even indoors. To make matters worse, changes in your body that come with aging can make it harder for you to be aware of getting cold. Seniors should keep their homes between 68 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit, and dress warmly indoors as well as whenever they’re leaving the house…hats and scarfs encouraged!
Slipping on Ice
Not only do seniors often lack the balance or reflexes to steady themselves when slipping on ice, but they also recover much more slowly than their younger counterparts after injuring themselves in a fall. For those reasons, it’s important that older adults take precautions when going outside in the winter, even if it’s just to grab the newspaper at the end of the driveway. Wear shoes with non-skid soles, or even invest in a pair of Yaktrax, which fit over your shoes to provide extra traction.
Poor Driving Conditions
You can wear your Yaktrax to the car, but the winter-related risks don’t stop there. Obviously, driving conditions are much worse in the wintertime, and for seniors with slower reflexes or who don’t drive as much as they used to, driving mid-winter can be dangerous. Be sure to get your car serviced before the cold weather sets in—winter tires and new windshield wipers can make a big difference. Seniors should also consider getting a roadside assistance plan through AAA, just in case something happens.