Tips: Getting seniors ready for cold weather


February 27, 2017

As the temperatures drop we stockpile firewood, check the weather stripping and pull the snow shovels out of the garage rafters. Don’t forget to get your senior loved ones and their homes ready for winter weather, too!

Winter is full of hazards for seniors, from increased falls to hazardous driving to dangerous wind chills. A few easy steps can help you all be prepared and ready for the long season ahead.

Grip not slip: Seniors should wear non-skid shoes with good traction. Make sure canes and walkers are winter-ready with new non-slip grips and tips. Check your senior’s stairs and sidewalks often for ice, compacted snow and other dangerous conditions. Shovel, scrape and use salt to keep sidewalks safe and unobstructed.

Warm it up: Seniors are at greater risk for hypothermia, and constant cold can make them more vulnerable to illness. They may also be less sensitive to dangerous changes in temperature. Indoors, set the thermostat at 65 degrees or warmer. Exercise caution with space heaters – even those with timers can be dangerous if placed near flammable curtains or furniture. Venturing outdoors? Wear layers for better insulation against the cold. Pull on mittens instead of gloves to keep fingers warmer. Wrap a scarf around the nose and mouth to trap warm air near the face. And don’t forget a hat! If your loved one has pale or cold skin, is fatigued, confused, or has a slowed heart or breathing rate, they may have hypothermia. Take steps to get them warm and call 911.

Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning: Each year tens of thousands of people are sickened by carbon monoxide (CO), and up to 500 people die from CO poisoning. Gas heaters, fireplaces and burning lanterns can all give off enough CO to be harmful, or even deadly. Install CO detectors in living areas and bedrooms and keep the batteries fresh. Check and clean any appliances that use an open flame. Signs of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, nausea, vomiting, confusion, blurry vision and general weakness and lethargy. If you suspect CO poisoning, get your loved one into fresh air immediately and call 911.

Drive safely: Winter driving is more treacherous for all drivers, but especially for seniors who may have some decline in vision, reflexes and skills. In the case of an accident, they may be unable to push or dig a car out of a snow bank or walk long distances for help. Check your senior’s car tires, wipers and antifreeze along with other routine car maintenance. Create a first aid and “survival pack” for inside the car with snacks, a thermal blanket, flashlight, and chemical hand warmers. Make sure your loved one has a fully charged phone before leaving the house. And, if your senior isn’t as safe a driver as they should be, it may be time to take their keys – at least until the spring thaw.

Fight the winter blues: What makes people depressed in the winter? Short days, long nights, holidays, and a feeling of loneliness when the world is frozen and still and everyone huddles up at home. Take a little extra time during the winter months to stop in and call senior loved ones. It’s important to check on their health and safety, but also just to let them know you care, and that they have people who love them and care about them, no matter the weather.

Belvedere Home Care can help you care for your loved ones and keep them safe, healthy and happy through the winter months and all year round. Learn about our wide range of services and our trained caregivers at