The winter months bring colder weather, which often means that seniors must make some changes in their care plan. Ideally, you and your senior loved one should schedule a pre-winter checkup that allows your family to discuss your best options for care. However, these tips prevent many of the most common risks that occur for seniors during the winter season.
Make Sure Vaccines Are Up-to-Date
Seniors over the age of 65 are at greater risk for complications that occur from the flu virus. For this reason, experts recommend that anyone over this age have a flu shot towards the beginning of the season. While it is best to get a flu shot by October, it is never too late for a senior to get one as long as the virus is still circulating.
The pneumococcal vaccine is also available for older adults who are at greater risk for flu complications. There are several types of this vaccine available, and seniors should check with their physician to find out if one is recommended. Usually, this vaccine can be administered at the same time as the flu shot.
Stay on Top of Hygiene
Basic hygiene practices go a long way toward keeping seniors healthy as bacterial and viral illnesses hit their peak. Encourage seniors to wash their hands regularly, especially after toileting and before eating. Families should also arrange for seniors who need assistance to have caregivers available to provide them with bathing services.
If your loved one lives in an assisted living community, encourage family and friends to arrange their visits during times when they are healthy. This helps to prevent the spread of germs to the most vulnerable members of the population. While you might find it hard to wait to visit a loved one, being clear of the flu or a cold protects their health.
The aging process brings changes in a senior's metabolism that affects their body's ability to properly regulate their temperature. This places seniors at greater risk of experiencing dangerous symptoms that occur with hypothermia. Fortunately, hypothermia is preventable in most cases.
Always make sure that seniors have a warm living environment. Your loved one's residence should have a properly working heating system that keeps their living quarters at the appropriate temperature.
Seniors may also find it more comfortable to dress in layers both indoors and when they venture outside. While indoors, seniors may need to wear long sleeves with a sweater over the top, and blankets along with shawls add additional layers of warmth.
When they go outside, make sure seniors have an appropriate heavy coat to wear and someone to go with them to watch for signs of hypothermia. Seniors who have a tendency to wander may need additional protection from the elements. For instance, arranging for memory care provides them with a caregiver who makes sure they do not stray from home.
Guard Against Falls
Fall-related injuries are a common cause for senior hospitalizations, and slippery surfaces created by winter weather are a serious hazard this season. Provide seniors with sturdy, slip-resistant shoes, and make sure that the sidewalks and entrances to their residence are clear of ice and snow.
Provide Social Stimulation
The winter doldrums can take a serious turn for seniors who become more isolated due to the foul weather. Make sure that your senior loved one has regular social stimulation such as group activities at their assisted living residence that gives them a way to maintain a positive mindset when those holiday blues strike.
At Oakridge Gardens Rehabilitation & Memory Center GardenView, LLC, our staff is trained to promote senior health throughout every season. Contact us today for a tour of our community to find out how we can keep your loved one safe this winter.