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Cold Weather Ahead — Lifesaving Tips for Elderly Winter Safety

Winter can get incredibly cold in Canada, with plunging temperatures and snowfall both common. In Ontario, for example, temperatures can drop to -30 °C or lower in extreme cases.

Freezing weather and heavy snow can cause problems for people in all age groups, but the elderly are particularly vulnerable. Wet and icy conditions bring an increased risk of falls and can make getting out to socialize more difficult. Our bodies tend to feel the cold more with age, too, due to decreased circulation.

Even at home, winter weather can create certain safety issues. Fortunately, you can take simple steps to improve your safety at home during the coldest time of year.

Keep reading for helpful tips on how to stay safe, warm, and comfortable at home in winter.

Stock Up on Food and Drink in Case of Severe Snow

Canada has experienced many severe snowstorms in the past century, including the famous blizzard that struck Ontario in January 1999 and led to the army being called in to clear the streets.

With that in mind, it’s important to keep your pantry well-stocked with food, drink, and other essentials in case shopping for new supplies becomes difficult. Even moderate snow and ice can make you less inclined to visit local stores.

It’s a good idea to buy foods that last, such as dried pasta, rice, and canned vegetables. Keep candles and matches handy in case of potential power outages, too.

Prepare Your Winter Wardrobe Before the Cold Weather Arrives

Make sure you have plenty of warm clothing to wear inside and outside your home. A robust pair of boots are crucial to protect your feet in case of snow and try to wear multiple layers to stay snug. Even if you’re a little too warm initially, it’s better to have too many layers than not enough (as long as you can take them off easily).

Also, ensure that you have thick blankets to wrap around yourself and loved ones while relaxing on the couch.

If you’re running low on winter clothing and accessories, buy them ahead of time — don’t wait until it’s already freezing outside. If you need help to choose and buy these items, ask a friend or family member to go shopping with you.

Discuss Immunizations with Your Healthcare Provider

Older adults with a weakened immune system are more susceptible to getting sick at this time of year. Talk to your doctor about any immunizations you may need to reduce your risk of catching cold, flu, or other conditions (e.g. pneumonia) that are more common during winter.

Eat a Healthy Diet to Get Essential Vitamins and Minerals

When temperatures plummet, it’s tempting to eat hot, comforting meals and skip the fruit and vegetables you may usually eat. However, it’s vital to maintain healthy eating habits even when you’re craving nothing but hearty carbs and deliveries from your favorite restaurants.

For example, your body will create less vitamin D if you’re spending more time indoors and getting less sunlight. And it’s important for keeping your bones, muscles, and teeth in good condition. That means you may need to eat more egg yolks and mushrooms in winter (to name just two of the simplest options), which can be a great source of vitamin D.

Stay Hydrated

It’s more difficult to drink water during winter than in warmer seasons. You may prefer to sip on a steaming mug of coffee or hot chocolate at home instead.

However, research shows that you need to drink more water as you age, due to changes in how the body regulates temperature. Drinking water is vital to avoid dehydration and help your body perform essential functions, such as control body temperature and maintain healthy blood pressure.

Maintain Contact with Others

If you find that you stay home much more in winter than in other seasons, you may be more likely to feel lonely or isolated. That can make cold weather more difficult on some elderly individuals than others, especially those who live alone.

However, try to initiate more social interactions in winter however you can. In the digital age, that’s never been easier, thanks to the proliferation of video chat platforms.

You can arrange group meetings with friends and family, take part in quizzes, or even chat with contacts in other parts of the world, all from a simple smartphone, tablet, or laptop.

Take Safety Precautions on Your Car

Planning to drive regularly during winter? Prepare your car for wet, snowy, and icy conditions.

Your wipers should be in good condition, and you need a reliable ice scraper to keep your windshield as clear as possible. Choose your driving routes carefully to avoid potentially risky roads prone to ice, and keep your phone within reach in case of emergencies.

Consider Installing Accessibility Products

Accessibility products can make a major difference to your safety at home during winter and the rest of the year.

For example, stairlifts are a popular option for people with age-related mobility limitations. A wide range of models are available, at reasonable prices, to help improve safety and accessibility inside and outside the home.

Stairlifts can be fitted to external stairways to help you come and go in comfort. If you find ascending or descending stairs on foot difficult, especially in winter when outdoor steps can become wet or icy, a stairlift can provide you with valuable peace of mind.

Ramps are another common accessibility solution with the power to greatly increase safety all year round, but particularly in winter. They enable wheelchair users and elderly individuals with limited mobility to enter or exit the home safely. It also allows you to maintain more independence, as there is less need to rely on someone else to help you up or down stairs.

Improving Winter Safety with Accessibility Solutions

Taking the right precautions to prepare yourself and your home for winter can help you enjoy the season in safety.

If you want to modify your home to improve accessibility and safety, Total Access Solutions is a trusted provider of accessibility products. We install stairlifts, ramps, grab bars, and much more.

For a free consultation with TAS accessibility experts, contact our friendly team today.

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