Seniors are often most vulnerable during winter. The days are cold and short, and it’s harder to get out of the house amid snow, ice and sub-freezing temperatures. That’s why it’s so important to help seniors prepare their homes for winter — and to help them prepare to thrive during these difficult months. If you have an aging loved one in your life, consider these tips to help get your senior’s home winter ready.
Winter Preparation Tips
Use Warmer Bedding
Blankets, bedspreads and comforters that are ideal through summer and fall simply won’t cut it during winter. Replace warm-weather bedding with a down comforter, and place wool blankets near the bed so that a senior can easily reach them when additional layers are necessary.
Without proper bedding, a senior may feel the need to get out of bed to find additional blankets or to turn up the heat in the middle of the night. This can increase the chance of falls or other accidents, which should be avoided at all costs. Upgrading to warmer bedding and placing additional layers close by can eliminate the risk of falls.
One of the great threats to a home is a lack of proper drainage. Without proper drainage in winter, ice dams can form on roofs, which can damage shingles and lead to significant leakage.
Start by clearing out a senior’s gutters. When you clear gutters, you ensure that melting snow and ice can easily channel away from the roof. A senior can’t (and shouldn’t) get out the ladder and clear gutters alone, so this is a great way to provide assistance before winter arrives.
Add Interior Lighting
Winter is the darkest time of year. The days are shorter, and the sun is often hidden behind gray clouds. How does this affect a senior? In two ways: 1) the darkness can lead to depression (better known as “seasonal affective disorder”), and 2) the darkness can lead to accidents.
Adding just a little bit of interior light goes a long way toward eliminating those threats and helping make your senior’s home winter ready. Consider adding extra lamps in rooms that are particularly dark. Install overhead lights on ceiling fans that do not already have them. And encourage seniors to open up blinds and drapes to let as much light as possible inside during the day.
Clean the Chimney
If your senior’s home includes a fireplace, schedule a professional chimney cleaning and inspection. Over time, creosote builds up inside a chimney, which creates a serious fire hazard. One professional cleaning should clear up the creosote and make the fireplace safe for use.
Part of making sure a senior’s home is winter ready also includes making sure they have working carbon monoxide detectors. If a fireplace fails to burn efficiently, or if the gas source is accidentally left on, the residual carbon monoxide can be harmful and even deadly.
Arrange for Snow Removal
As noted above, seniors can often feel trapped indoors by the winter weather that waits outside. Arrange for regular snow and ice removal as well as salt treatments for sidewalks, which can help remove an impediment to your loved one getting outside and staying engaged with his or her favorite activities.
Prepare for Emergencies
In winter, chances for power outages spike due to icy weather events. Create an emergency kit so that your aging loved one can easily survive a few hours or even days without electricity if needed.
What should you put in the kit? Add the following:
- Flashlights and extra batteries
- A weather radio
- Bottled water
- Required prescription medications
- Warm clothing like hats, scarves and gloves
- Non-perishable food items (that are also easy to open)
Include anything else that is relevant to your loved one or the area where he or she lives, and ensure that a wintertime power outage will be no problem.
Service the Heating System
Here’s the big one when it comes to getting a senior’s home winter ready: Make sure an HVAC technician inspects the home’s heating system before the coldest months of the year arrive. Without reliable heating, it’s going to be difficult for your senior loved one to live independently.
A good HVAC technician can provide routine maintenance and identify problem areas before they spiral into situations that require emergency repairs. The cost of proactive maintenance is also a fraction of what you’ll pay for an emergency repair visit.
Bonus: Schedule In-Home Care Visits
If you really want to guarantee a senior’s safety and security this winter, schedule regular home care visits. There are various levels of home care services, including weekly companion care visits (for light housekeeping, meal prep and simple conversation) and more regular personal care assistance (for bathing, dressing, eating assistance, medication reminders and more).
At Cranberry Home Care, we provide a range of services to seniors living in and around Middleboro, MA. We are available to you 24 hours a day and seven days a week. To learn more about how we can help by assisting in getting your senior’s home winter ready, get in touch today.