Helping Protect the Elderly from Winter Health Hazards

Winter isn’t such a ‘wonderful’ time of year for our elderly population, as it can bring around a lot of problems that can affect their health, mobility and even their mood.
Therefore if you’re a carer for an elderly person, or are just concerned for the welfare of a senior person, we’ve put together a list of some of the most common winter health hazards that older people face each year, along with tips on how to protect them.
Falls, slips and trips
During the winter, icy surfaces create a large risk for slips and falls for the elderly. If your loved one has mobility issues, make sure to shovel snow and remove ice from pathwaysas soon as possible. Suggest the person wear anti-slip shoes or boots with a good grip. If they use an assistive walking device, such as a cane or walker, replace the rubber tip during this time of year to ensure it grips best to those slippery surfaces.
Mood changes and depression
Seasonal Affective Disorder (also known as SAD) can be a real problem for the elderly, and it generally refers to depression brought on by winter. As with other types of depression, the two main symptoms of SAD are a low mood and a lack of interest in life. You may also be less active than normal and sleep more. You should encourage them to visit their GP if they show these symptoms as they may carry out an assessment on their mental health and may be able to provide them with some form of treatment to help them.
Nutritional problems
It’s no surprise that winter brings a lot of problems to many of us in terms of when we need to get to places, and this can have an effect on the elderly as they may be put off (or may be physically unable to) from going to buy groceries. It’s therefore vital that some sort of system is in place so that their nutritional needs are met. This can be anything from doing the shopping for them, hiring someone to do it for them (there are many services out there that offer this) or ordering their shopping online.
Combating the cold temperatures
The flu is potentially fatal for the elderly if proper action is not taken to treat it, causing many to die from it each year, particularly if they have underlying health issues. Free flu jabs are available from your GP for the most vulnerable groups of people which include the elderly, pregnant women and those with respiratory problems such as asthma.
If you worry about your elderly loved one at home and if they have problems working with their heating for example, this can be a big concern as the temperatures drop rapidly. It may be time to look at other options in this case, such as Extra Care retirement villages, for example, to help ensure they are looked after round the clock.

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