Planning senior care before the cold sets in is a smart choice to avoid the challenges and stresses of the winter season, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic affecting the care and resources your loved ones might need.
Winter can be a season of new challenges for seniors. Snow and ice storms can make walking and traveling difficult, the darkness can affect mental and physical health, and illnesses such as colds and flu are more prevalent.
Here are some tips to keep seniors safe as the weather changes, including ways to keep them safe at home, how their care options may be different during the coronavirus, and why assisted living could be the best option.
Predict winter needs to minimize risks
Caring for your loved ones during the winter includes taking extra precautions and thinking ahead. The risk of falling increases both inside and outside of the home, due to the darker winter months and inclement weather. Reduced light creates more hazards, and snow and ice create dangerous walking and driving situations.
Check the home for these safety issues:
- Adequate lighting, inside and outside
- Railings on stairs
- Grab bars in bathroom for toilet and shower
- Removing furniture and clutter from high-traffic areas
- Adding heavy curtains or weather stripping to windows and doors to keep in heat
- Salt and snow shovels on hand
Visit the doctor and update medications
Make a doctor’s appointment for your loved one as soon as possible, including for eye and ear checkups. Whether it’ll be virtual or a safe in-person appointment, you can discuss health needs, medications, and exercise options. List all medications and supplements so your doctor can evaluate them for any possible interactions, which also increase fall risks.
Be sure to plan ahead for getting medications, in case bad weather causes delays. Have over-the-counter medications and supplements stocked up for illnesses such as colds and the flu. Ask your doctor about supplementing with Vitamin D, which might be necessary during the dark winter months. Also consider purchasing a therapy light to aid with the fatigue and depression that can occur in low-light months.
The help of a physical or occupational therapist could be necessary to aid with exercise so your loved one stays active, which will help with their overall health and mood.
Reduce risk of illness
The cold winter months have always meant an increased risk of colds and the flu, due to more time spent indoors with others, less physical activity, less Vitamin D, and the cold itself putting more strain on the body. For seniors who already have a chronic illness, keeping warm is very important to their health and fighting illness.
With this year’s additional risk of the coronavirus, extra precautions must be taken to ensure the health and safety of seniors.
Follow these tips from the CDC to keep loved ones safe:
- Encourage frequent handwashing, especially before eating and after using the bathroom
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
- Clean and disinfect frequently used objects and surfaces
- Cover coughs and sneezes with the inside of your elbow or a tissue, and wash your hands afterward
Avoid gatherings and encourage virtual visits or phone calls from family to protect your senior loved one. Know the symptoms of COVID-19 and call your doctor at any sign of illness for advice and instruction.
When assisted living may be the safest choice for planning senior care
With the additional stresses of illness this year, you might be feeling overwhelmed about how to keep your loved one safe. Planning senior care could mean considering an assisted living community, where you know your loved one will be in an environment with rules and procedures designed to protect their health and wellbeing.
At The Kensington, we have a passion for taking assisted living to a higher level of care and comfort. We are staffed by loving individuals who care for your family as if they were our own. You can rest assured we are taking all the necessary precautions during the coronavirus pandemic to ensure the safety of your loved ones, including regular screenings and the use of personal protective equipment.
We are practicing social distancing and frequent cleaning and sanitizing, as well as following all guidelines from the Department of Health and CDC regarding visitation. In addition to all safety measures, we are dedicated to keeping residents happy and fulfilled. This means adjusting our life enrichment programs to include safe activities that bring just as much joy, such as virtual classes and tours.
Additional Recommended Reading:
- What Will This Year’s Holiday Season Look Like with Our Senior Loved Ones?
- Caregiver Tips: Minimizing the Stress of Sundowning Syndrome
- The Tough Conversation of Moving to Assisted Living
- Caring for Someone with Dementia: Things to Know