Every season comes with its perks and its pitfalls. But those pitfalls are intensified for the elderly. Being a little bit cold is no problem for a young, healthy individual, but can lead to life-threatening illnesses in senior citizens. Strong winds are exciting when you’re young, but can be frightening when you use a walker.
Don’t forget about the seniors in your life. If you live with a senior citizen, take these steps to make your home safer for them this season.
Remove slippery leaves from the grounds
The colorful leaves most people find so beautiful in the fall and winter can be hazardous to the elderly. A pile of leaves can be very slippery and cause an elderly person to lose their footing, or cause a walker to slide. Remove piles of leaves around your property immediately.
Monitor your thermostat
Remember that the elderly are far more susceptible to the cold than younger individuals. It’s important to keep your senior friend or relative in a comfortable climate at all times. Consider checking the weather forecast for the upcoming days and scheduling your thermostat to make adjustments accordingly. It’s not easy for an elderly person to get up and rummage through a closet for a scarf or sweater when the house is too cold. Ask them how they feel the temperature is and keep them in mind anytime you want to make a change on the thermostat.
Keep decorations off the floor
Winter is decoration season. Between Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s, you might have little lights strung around your property, fake presents on the front lawn and little pilgrim statues in your hallways. But keep any decorations that an elderly individual may trip on, like light cords or figurines, off of the floors.
Clear walking paths
Winter weather means lots of wind, and wind constantly blows all sorts of debris onto your walking paths. Take a stroll around your property every day, rake or shovel in hand, and look for any walking paths that have been covered with rocks, leaves or other hazardous items. Your elderly family member should be able to take a stroll around the property without fear of falling.
Keep floors dry
Winter can also mean rain and rain can mean wet floors. Put a doormat outside every entryway and immediately inside each entryway, too. Consider keeping a few towels by the front door, along with a sign that reads, “Please dry off your feet before coming inside.” You don’t want any slippery entryways that could cause an elderly person to fall.
Keep your property well lit
With the sun setting earlier, it’s important that your senior friend can find their way around your property in the early evening. Make sure you adjust the schedule of your automatic lights so that it’s never dark around your property. You should also schedule lights inside your home at night, like those in the hallways leading to bathrooms or any other areas your elderly family member may need to access during the night.
Give your family member a flashlight
Unpredictable weather is standard this time of year. Windstorms can easily take out a power line and leave your home pitch black. Make sure your elderly family member has a flashlight in their bedside table that they can easily access during a blackout. Give them a flashlight with a large, easy-to-push power button that they can find even in the dark.
Monitor space heaters
If your senior resident likes to keep a space heater in their room, make sure you check on it often. It’s important that these are turned off periodically and don’t sit on or near anything flammable. But your elderly friend may not remember to check for things like that, so it’s up to you to monitor the heater.
Install handrails outdoors
You should install handrails not just indoors, but outdoors. Even if you diligently clear your walking paths every day, some leaves or rocks could still blow under the senior resident’s foot while they’re out for a stroll. A strong gust of wind could make an older person lose their balance, too, so make sure you have handrails lining your yard.
The beauty of winter can be enjoyed at any age, but it brings a few hazards for the elderly. Make sure anyone who’s living in your home or visiting feels safe and secure, no matter what hazards the temperature or gloomy weather may bring.