Winter Risks for Seniors

With the changing of seasons, and temperatures dropping, winter offers a whole new host of risks for our seniors.  It’s important to be aware of the unique challenges associated with elder care during these cold months, and to take steps to protect your loved ones. Here are just a few things to be on the look out for this winter.

An increased risk of cardiovascular disease. During the colder months, seniors can be more at risk for heart attacks and high blood pressure, as the cold weather can increase blood pressure, and put increased strain on the heart as it works harder to maintain body heat.

Exasperation of respiratory problems. For seniors with respiratory issues, like asthma or COPD, cold winter air can be a cause of spasms in the lungs, making it harder to breathe. To combat this, have them wear a ski, or other facemask so that their own breath warms the air before it enters the lungs.

Increased joint pain. Seniors with arthritis and other joint problems can experience an increase in pain and stiffness. Mild daily exercise will help, and swimming sessions at a local pool is a great activity for this, as it’s easy on the joints.

Some general tips for seniors during winter

Stay indoors. Cold temperatures, snow, freezing rain, and chilly winds can all steal body heat, so seniors should limit their time outside.

Wear layers. Seniors should always be wearing layers (even indoors). Wearing two or three thinner layers of loose-fitting clothing is warmer than a single layer of thick clothing. When they have to go outside, ensure they’re wearing a hat, gloves or mittens, a warm coat, and a scarf or facemask.

Keep clothes dry. Wet clothing chills the body very quickly, so ensure their winter clothing stays dry after being outside during heavy snowfall and freezing rain.

While the winter months pose unique challenges to seniors and their caregivers, with a little forethought and planning, you can keep them happy and healthy. What are some things you do to keep your loved one safe during winter? Let us know in the comments.

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