Winter is coming, sooner than you think. Getting prepared for the deep freeze of winter in Minnesota is a good idea for everyone, but especially for older adults who find colder months particularly bitter. The health and safety of seniors includes more than just dressing appropriately for weather conditions. When the wintry winds of change move in, seniors should winterize the home, keep an eye on health, and come up with ways to stay active.
Depending on the condition of your home, the process of winterizing can include many tasks. The main idea is to keep cold air out and warm air inside by doing things like installing weather strips and caulking windows. Pipes exposed to outdoor air should be insulated to protect from freezing. After checking to see if the furnace is in good shape, install carbon monoxide and smoke detectors where needed. To avoid slips and falls, keep ice melt or sand near your exterior doors to scatter easily on icy sidewalks and steps. Snow blowers and shovels should be in working order and kept in a handy place for easy access. Creating a bad weather emergency kit and placing a flashlight on the bedside table are good measures to take in case of emergency.
Checking your health regularly can help prevent signs of illness from going unnoticed. Devices that monitor blood pressure, body weight, blood sugar, oxygen levels, and other vital information are available for in-home use. Spending a large part of the day indoors during the long winter months can take toll on your health due to lack of exposure to sunlight. Your body produces Vitamin D in response to sunlight, which is essential for improving calcium absorption and creating strong bones. Vitamin D deficiency can have serious health effects on seniors. Proper levels of Vitamin D can prevent falls and fractures and maintain physical mobility, helping protect you if an accident should occur. Get more Vitamin D throughout the day by taking a seat in a comfy chair next to a sunny window, but just remember to be conscious of getting too much sun. Your cat will appreciate the company. Supplements can be taken as an extra source of Vitamin D as well, but you should consult your doctor before taking any.
Many older adults aren’t able to be snowbirds and travel south for the winter. Indoor activities are key to those folks who want to avoid feeling penned in. Since options for indoor activities are about as endless as opinions, here are some fun ones that maybe you haven’t considered yet. High quality digital cameras are available at affordable prices. Using the zoom function on your camera, take extreme close-up pictures of the most mundane objects to discover a new perspective and create an amazing piece of art. Keep your mind sharp by reading, playing brain games and mind puzzles, or putting together a puzzle. Also, you can pick up that musical instrument you’ve always dreamed of playing but never found the time to learn. Lastly, table tennis comes highly recommended because it promotes physical fitness and it is simply fun at any age. Table tennis can be played with a partner or alone by placing the table against a wall.
Part of being safe during winter months is admitting the need for help. Often, the responsibility falls on family members to recognize the signs a loved one might need additional support. Signs a person may need in-home care are changes in physical and mental status such as poor diet or weight loss, loss of interest in hobbies or activities, or extreme mood swings. Watch for a noticeable decline in grooming habits or unpleasant body odor. The house may be unkempt with dirty laundry piling up, little healthy food in the fridge, or spoiled food that isn’t thrown away.
Home health care coupled with remote patient monitoring technology provides support for personal health and socialization needs, which can truly be a blessing by bringing peace of mind for families of seniors during those subzero days.
Submitted by Russ Rapp, the Marketing and Business Development Coordinator at LB Homes.