SATURDAY, Feb. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Winter weather can be
challenging for some seniors, especially those with mobility or
other health issues.
But planning ahead, and enlisting the help of adult children,
neighbors or caregivers when needed, can help seniors stay safe and
mobile during the cold months.
"Snow and ice, cold temperatures and heating devices are all potential safety hazards that result in a number of accidents every year. Minor additions or changes to a senior's home can minimize the risk of an accident and create a dramatically safer environment," Andrea Cohen, CEO of HouseWorks, a Massachusetts-based private-pay home care business, said in a company news release.
She offered a number of suggestions. If mobility, balance or
other health issues have made shoveling snow too taxing, make sure
someone is available to shovel snow and remove ice so that walkways
are clear and it's safe to enter and exit the home.
Also, make sure that dryer vents and gutters are cleared.
Because cold weather and snow can limit a senior's ability to
get out to take care of errands, it's important to arrange to have
someone available to help with grocery shopping and to make sure
the senior has enough food and medication for several days, in case
weather makes streets impassable or affects electricity.
Flashlights and batteries should be readily available in case of a
Heating pads and space heaters are used by some seniors for
extra warmth, but these devices can be fire hazards if they're not
functioning properly or if they're left unattended. Check these
items and repair or remove any that might be unsafe. Fresh
batteries should be placed in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
in seniors' homes.
Make sure important phone numbers -- family members, health care
providers, food delivery -- are posted in a convenient and visible
location, such as the refrigerator. The telephone needs to be
easily accessible and work when the power is out. It's a good idea
to provide seniors with an easy-to-use charged mobile phone for
If a senior lives far away from family members, arrange for a
friend or neighbor to check on them from time to time. Consider a
medical alert system that can ensure immediate response to a
A senior's home might require safety modifications such as grab
bars, hand-held showers, or rearrangement of furniture and
The AGS Foundation for Health in Aging offers
winter safety tips for seniors.