While it is important for everyone to take extra precautions during the winter months, seniors (and senior caregivers) must pay special attention to home environments out outdoor conditions. As individuals age, they become more susceptible to falling on ice, hypothermia, and other cold-related dangers. However, by following a few tips, you can keep yourself safe and your loved ones free from winter harm.
Five Important Actions for Seniors and Caregivers to Take in the Winter
Seniors can enjoy winters by taking the following steps to minimize risk. And if you are a caretaker, make a checklist to review with the senior to ensure that they have everything they need.
Keep the Pantry and the Medicine Cabinet Stocked
Winter storms and freezing temperatures can keep seniors house-bound for days. So, make sure that there is plenty of food in the house – including non-perishables in case the power goes out. Then, even more importantly, keep an eye on necessary, prescribed medication to avoid a potential health emergency.
Keep Home Temperatures Warm
Sometimes seniors living at home want to save money by keeping the thermostat down on colder day, but this is not a recommended practice. Often, seniors do not realize that they are getting too cold until hyperthermia sets in. Then, unless treated immediately, this condition can lead to heart attacks, kidney problems, or worse. Experts advise seniors and caregivers to keep home temperatures at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
Make Good Preparations for Outdoor Excursions
Many independent seniors insist on taking outdoor walks even in the winter. Or, others who still drive must get to and from their vehicles and navigate slippery parking lots. So, all seniors who venture outdoors during snowy or icy conditions should dress warmly (preferably in layers with proper head, face, and hand protection. In addition, seniors should only wear supportive footwear with excellent tread when walking outside. You may even want to consider purchasing inexpensive traction devices that easily slip over shoe bottoms such as those sold by Yaktrax.
Avoid Space Heaters
Unfortunately, winter brings an increase in home fires, largely due to residents who use alternative heat sources such as space heaters. So, if possible, play it safe by not using these fire-causing devices in your home and encourage all seniors in your life to do the same. Even seniors who use fireplaces should exercise extra precaution. For example, make sure the fireplace is covered by a large, sturdy screen to prevent sparks from landing on carpets and igniting blazes. In addition, double check to be sure that working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are properly installed.
Stay in Contact
If you are an independently living senior, call friends and family members often to let them know that you are okay and to inform them if you need anything. Or, if you have senior friends or family members, check in with them frequently. They will likely appreciate your efforts, and you will feel better knowing that they are safe.
It is a mistake to assume that all seniors are unfamiliar with the internet. In fact, many seniors have embraced the many resources offered by the internet. They use email to communicate, shop online, play games, use social media platforms to connect with friends and family members, and much more. However, not all seniors are comfortable with computers or internet savvy. And these individuals may find it difficult to relate to their children and especially their grandchildren, who were born into an internet-dominated world.
Internet 101: A Few Things to Know and a Few Places to Enjoy
When exploring the internet, stay on secure sites with addresses (or URLs) that start with “https” to avoid having your information stolen. It is also a good idea to avoid strange links that may pop up. Yet, with these things in mind, the internet can be a fun place to explore. And if you are familiar with a few of the more popular spots on the internet, it will give you more common ground to share with your children and grandchildren.
Both kids and adults love YouTube videos, and this one site offers a wide variety of channels. On YouTube, you can find movies, television shows, music videos, funny animal videos, tutorial and informational videos, and much, much more. And many children go to YouTube to check out cartoons, videos showing other children testing toys, and learning videos. Popular channels for kids include Rainbow Learning and Kid City.
Although you must stay vigilant, shopping on the internet is a convenient way to find everyday items and hard-to-find things that may not be available at your local store – which makes this resource ideal when you are looking for a particular toy around the holidays are for birthdays. In addition, if you have items lying around that you no longer want, you can easily sell them on sites like eBay and Amazon Market Place. Or, if you are a crafter, you can sell you homemade wares on sites like Etsy.
Find the music you love for free or small fees at sites like YouTube, Spotify, and Pandora. These services make it easy to have access to all types of music without having to fill up space in your home with CDs, tapes, or records.
You may already be familiar with sites like Facebook, a platform that allows users to share photos, links from around the internet, memes (those pictures with funny phrases or sayings), stories, thoughts, and more. And Twitter is a faster moving platform that limits the characters you can use and is an ideal site for following you favorite celebrities. Instagram and Snapchat are image-heavy social media platforms favored by younger generations. And Pinterest is a great place to find and share home decorating tips, recipes, gardening ideas, and crafting inspiration.
And, clearly, the internet is vast, so there is much more out there to explore. So, why not ask your grandchildren to show you their favorite places on the internet? This could be a fun way for you to learn from them, and they will likely be happy and proud to have an opportunity to teach YOU something for a change.
There are tons of exercise options out there, but simple walking works incredibly well for most individuals. Beyond a good pair of supportive shoes, walking requires no special equipment, and it is appropriate for individuals of almost all fitness levels. You can walk solo or with a friend – you can even bring your dog along. And if you dress for the weather (or have access to an indoor walking venue), you can enjoy a good walk during any season of the year.
The Benefits of Regular Walking
According to the Mayo Clinic, a brisk, daily walk will help you achieve the following.
A Healthy Weight: Walking at a brisk pace burns calories and tones muscles.
Illness Prevention: Studies show that individuals who engage in daily walks reduce their risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
An Improved Mood: Regular exercise (such as walking) causes your brain to release endorphins, so your mood is lifted naturally.
Better Balance and Coordination: Regular walks (and other types of physical exercise) keep muscles and bones coordinated. This is especially helpful to seniors who become more susceptible to falls as they age.
How to Set Yourself Up for Success in Your Walking Routine
If you have not engaged in physical activity for a while, it is a good idea to start out slowly. The experts at the Mayo clinic recommend 30 minutes of exercise per day. Then, as you get stronger, you may choose to increase this time. In addition, you should consider the following.
Getting the Right Gear: Again, you should look for walking shoes that are comfortable and supportive. You should also wear comfortable clothing that moves with you. And, if you plan on walking at night or in the early mornings, wear brightly colored clothing or items that include reflective pieces.
Choosing the Right Course: If you walk outside, it is important to choose a relatively smooth route that is free of sidewalk cracks, potholes, and other obstacles that may lead to injury. Or, if you prefer to walk indoors, look for community fitness centers (like the YMCA) or malls that are friendly to walking enthusiasts.
Warming Up, Cooling Down, and Stretching: Keep your muscles and joints safe by starting out slowly (the warming up period) before breaking into your full stride. You should also stretch before and after your walk, and never end your exercise abruptly. Instead, when you are nearly finished with your walk, gradually slow down to your original, slower pace (the cooling down period).
Finally, as always, please check with your doctor before beginning a new exercise program, especially if you have existing illnesses or medical conditions.
While many seniors may no longer face a daily work commute, they still rely on their personal vehicles to take them where they need to go. Trips to the grocery store, the bank, the mall, and various and sundry appointments demand a dependable vehicle that is easy on fuel. And if you are shuttling grandkids around, you may need a little extra room in your car. Last but certainly not least, seniors with mobility or flexibility issues should look for a vehicle that is easy to get in and out of with comfortable seating.
Five New Vehicles that are Great for Seniors
Vehicle shopping can be an overwhelming experience for anyone. There are seemingly endless options out there, and the addition of modern tech features complicates matters even further. Many of the newer safety features are potentially great options for seniors, but only if they understand what they are and how to use them. The following vehicles offer a good balance between tech-savviness and user-friendliness. They are also roomy, easy to drive, reasonably priced, and fuel-efficient.
The Hyundai Santa Fe
Reviewers have loved the comfortable and supportive seating offered by the Santa Fe. It is also roomy on the inside and offers a quiet and smooth drive. In addition, the controls are intuitive and easy to use, so senior drivers should have no trouble accessing their favorite features.
The Kia Sorento
The Sorento offers convenient third-row seating for the grandkids that can be folded down when not in use. This vehicle also offers comfortable front seating and a composed ride for stress-free commuting. Then, the Kia ten-year or 100,000-mile warranty offers incredible peace of mind.
The Subaru Forester
Growing families and seniors love the easy access offered by the Subaru Forester. Also, almost every Subaru model, including the Forester comes with standard all-wheel drive for safer driving when roads get slick. And with excellent visibility, an impressive amount of safety features offered on basic trim levels, and simple controls, the Forester should be a great option for most senior drivers.
The Honda CR-V
For seniors with hobbies or volunteer responsibilities that demand a large amount of cargo space, the Honda CR-V is an excellent option. Also, the wide doors work well with this cargo space, making it easy to get both items and people in and out of the car. The CR-V also offers a sleek look and high reliability ratings.
The Subaru Outback
Subaru appears twice on this short list because the brand is known for its user-friendliness and overall value. The Outback, like the Forrester, comes with standard all-wheel drive and a tailgate that is lower than those found on most SUVs. This provides easier, more convenient access to anything inside the vehicle. Finally, the Outback is fun to drive, an important factor for seniors who genuinely enjoy time spent on the road.
How to Buy a Car Like a Pro
Before heading to the dealership, do your research, read reviews, and create a list of vehicles that meet your needs and wants. If you want, recruit your children, your niece or nephew, your spouse, or a close friend to provide objective opinions about your potential options. It is also good to familiarize yourself with your credit score and financial standing before filling out credit applications. Also, before purchasing, consider lease options that often come with surprisingly low monthly payments.