What many people regard as a winter
wonderland can be a minefield of safety hazards
for older adults, with snow and ice a major
cause of debilitating falls. Cold weather, lack
of exercise and isolation can take their toll,
To help seniors stay safe this winter, experts
at the University of Indianapolis offer up these
Put your best foot forward. Wear
appropriate footwear with good traction when
Clear the way. Spread road salt,
sand or kitty litter on sidewalks and driveways.
Don't do too much. If public sidewalks
haven't been cleared, ask friends or neighbors
for help with grocery shopping and other errands.
Find someone else to handle snow shoveling
and other strenuous and potentially dangerous
Exercise indoors. This could mean
walking in place, riding a stationary bicycle
or working out with a fitness video. Daily
stretching exercises help maintain flexibility.
Before you start any exercise program, consult
with your doctor.
Dress for the weather. Cold temperatures
are a serious threat to seniors, especially
those with dementia or Alzheimer's
disease. Inadequate warm clothing
can result in frostbite and hypothermia.
Stay warm inside. Keep houses heated
to above 65 degrees F and dress in layers
to maintain body heat. Individuals who have
difficulty paying the heating bill should
contact their heating supplier for ways to
continue service through the winter.
Watch out for a silent killer. If
you have a fireplace, gas furnace or gas-powered
heater, install carbon monoxide detectors
in your home.
Stay in touch. Make an effort to
socialize with family, friends and neighbors.
Depression is more common in the winter and
bad weather can mean social isolation for
older adults. If you can't visit in person,
have a telephone chat.