The holiday season is fast approaching, and many of us are looking forward to doing extra shopping, traveling to visit relatives, and maybe even hoping for one pretty snowfall. With the anticipation of the season, it is important for us to remember the dangers cold weather may present to our older loved ones. Winter weather can bring challenges to everyone, but senior citizens are especially susceptible to these problems, as their mobility is generally more limited, and extreme temperatures can aggravate existing health conditions.
If you have elderly family members who live in their own homes, now is the time to begin winterizing and helping them prepare for the coming winter weather. Residents of Regency and their families are fortunate in the sense that they do not have to worry about these concerns since our community takes steps to protect them under even the most challenging circumstances.
While some seniors might be able to manage well under normal weather conditions, winter storms can cause power outages. It might be more difficult for them to get around in the dark and cold. Icy sidewalks present falling hazards, and impassable roads can keep you from being able to get to them if they need to be checked on, basically leaving them stranded. One can begin to see how serious a situation can quickly become in a place like Morristown, where we have quite a bit of ice and snow each year!
In addition to the physical challenges that come with cold-weather season, many senior adults also face loneliness during this time of year. Seniors with mobility issues who live alone may feel cut off from the world, making the holiday season not so jolly and cheerful for them. Some may suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, a type of depression related to the changing seasons, and usually occurring through autumn and winter months.
Within our Regency community, we combat such winter-related challenges, tackling loneliness head-on with plenty of opportunities to make new friends and participate in events planned by our Activities Directors.
In addition to battling those seasonal blues, Regency communities have various safety measures in place for weather-related emergencies, including a maintenance crew to ensure that everything keeps working properly. Regular doctor visits keep residents’ health in check while nurses on-site help to look after our residents. With reliable transportation provided by Regency, you never have to worry about your older loved ones trying to drive in inclement weather. At Regency, your loved ones will be safe and warm all winter!
If your senior adult relative is not at Regency and lives alone, here are some ways you can help prepare them and their home for winter:
- Ask a neighbor if they can check in on your relative regularly. If they live within easy walking distance, this can save you a lot of worry and could be a huge help. In addition to making sure your relative is safe, it gives them at least a few minutes of visiting time, and can help them feel less isolated.
- Make sure your loved one has a fully charged cell phone ready at all times, and a list of local emergency services information with it. This could come in handy if landlines are down due to winter winds or heavy ice accumulation. They have easy access to emergency numbers, and you can reach them easily as well.
- Check that the central heating system in your relative’s house is working properly. If they have portable heaters or a fireplace, make sure those work and are properly ventilated so they don’t become hazards.
- Get weather radios so you and they can be aware of all weather reports and special warning bulletins. Be sure to have backup batteries.
- Make sure your relative has clothes that can be layered for warmth and knows to add layers if necessary. And blankets are always a good idea!
- Consider closing off rooms that are generally unused, for at least part of the season. Stuff towels in the space under the doors to those rooms to keep heat out; since those rooms aren’t in use, that’s heat that you want to keep in the rooms that are being used!
- Prepare a supply of extra food, water, and meds. If power goes out or roads are impassable, make sure they’ll have something to eat and plenty of any medication they might need. Try to include foods that provide high amounts of energy (that’ll help them stay warm) and don’t need to be cooked. Nuts, energy and protein bars, and dried fruit are great options. This way, you’ll know they have supplies they need to hold them over for a few days until you can get to them with a medication refill or extra groceries.
Taking some precautions now while family are gathered together to celebrate the holidays will help seniors feel safe this coming winter and give the family some peace of mind about their well-being. If someone is a resident at Regency, rest easy knowing that the mental and physical well-being of those we care for is the reason we’re here.
To schedule a tour of Regency Retirement Community of Morristown and speak to one of our community consultants about the steps involved in moving to one of our apartments, call (423) 581-7075.