Frigid Weather Could be Dangerous for Seniors: Time to Check In and Help Out
Central New Yorkers are being asked during this cold snap to pay a little more attention to residents who might be overlooked. There are some particular risks seniors face in the icy weather.
Negative 6 or 8 degrees and wind chills of 20-below or colder certainly get everyone’s attention. 'Am I bundled up and covered up?'; 'will the car start?'; 'do the kids have hats and gloves and coats on?'; 'or should I even go outside?' But senior citizen advocate Gair Adams hopes we’re also caring for the elderly. She runs the local office of Home Instead Senior Care, which provides non-medical in-home care. She says friends and relatives need to help seniors in simple ways.
“I’ve noticed some seniors wearing too light an overcoat or rain coat, where a wool coat might be better suited. Certainly anyone who cares for seniors if they’re taking them somewhere, to a doctor’s appointment or to the grocery store make sure the car they’re getting into is well heated prior o the senior getting into the car. Otherwise be sure to drop a senior off closely to whatever door they’re entering so we can minimize the amount of time that they’re exposed to the cold weather.”
A major reason for hypothermia in seniors is poorly insulated or heated homes. Adams recommends checking insulation and drafts and keep thermostats at least to 65 during the cold snaps.
OTHER RESOURCES TO HELP SENIORS
Information about cold weather and how to endure is at:
- Ready.gov, the federal government's senior site
- The Red Cross
- Onondaga County Department of Aging and Youth
- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Another big problem when things are icy is injury from falls.
“It’s really, really important to check their canes or their walkers to make sure the rubber tips are secure. Feel free if someone is accompanying you and driving you, to hold the person’s arm, allow them to help you in and out of the car, transferring, hold doors and things like that. We want to minimize as many falls as possible.”
Adams notes 6 million seniors a year will visit emergency rooms for falls – a risk that's worse in this winter weather. She adds concern and contact with seniors not only improves safety, it can also brighten their day.