It’s starting to get cold outside! The leaves are almost done changing colors and the hats and scarves are coming out of storage. You know what that means: winter is on its way, and it’s time to make sure you’re ready! Winters in the Midwest can be unpredictable, but with proper preparation, you can be ready for anything Jack Frost throws your way.
Dress for warmth. It’s always a good idea to dress in multiple layers to prepare for any time of climate you may find yourself in. If you tend to get warm indoors but know you’ll be traveling around the neighborhood, wear a sweater or sweatshirt under your winter jacket so that you can take your jacket off inside. Make sure you wear winter-appropriate socks, and don’t forget to keep a hat, scarf and gloves with you whenever you’ll be outdoors. Your extremities (fingers and toes) will get cold the fastest, so keep them covered and you’ll keep in your body heat!
Keep it cozy inside. Your body temperature should never dip below 95 degrees Fahrenheit, so make sure to set your indoor temperature warm enough, usually no lower than 65 degrees, and keep some extra slippers and blankets around if you do catch a chill. If you decide to use a portable heater, find one with an auto-shut off function, keep it plugged directly into a wall outlet (not an extension cord), inspect the wiring to ensure it’s in good condition, and keep the heater clear of furniture, newspapers and other flammable material. Safety first!
Avoid slipping on ice. As your age increases, your risk for a fall increases as well. Don’t increase this risk by being risky around ice! Replace cane tips that are worn out to better assist walking. Make sure to always wear shoes with good traction and non-skid soles when you leave the house, and avoid walking around the house with dirty shoes. This could cause puddles and other slippery situations indoors, too. Be sure driveways and sidewalks are salted to help the ice melt quickly. Stay indoors until roads have been cleared to avoid dangerous travel situations. Here at Eberhardt Village and Arthur Home, we take care of snow removal and sidewalk maintenance for you, alleviating some of the winter stress.
Prepare for power outages. Winter storms, just like any other storm, can lead to power outages. Make sure you know exactly where flashlights and batteries are, along with a radio, and keep a clear path to these items to avoid tripping over things. Keep non-perishable food in the pantry in case the refrigerator doesn’t have power and perishable food spoils. Keep in mind, when the power goes out, the heat may also turn off. Keep plenty of layers on hand, including a hat, and try to move around to raise your body temperature and fight off the cold.
Keep your diet on track. With more time spent indoors and less time spent in the sun, nutritional deficits are common among seniors – especially Vitamin D deficiencies. Consume foods that are Vitamin D fortified, such as milk, grains and seafood options like tuna and salmon. Talk to your doctor if you feel you may need additional vitamins or supplements to keep you going through the cold months.
If you’re still driving, make sure your car is ready for winter, too. Winter driving is hazardous for any driver, but seniors who drive less often may have slower reflexes. Make sure to get regular servicing on your car to ensure all functions are working properly, including a fresh oil change, fully inflated tires, a working battery and winter windshield wipers. A good rule of thumb as far as keeping your gas tank full in the winter is to pretend like your “half-tank” line is the empty line. That way, you’ll never run out of gas and there will be enough gas to keep your lines from freezing. Investing in a AAA membership is an added safety measure in case of an emergency.
Most importantly, ask for help when you need it. If your driveway needs shoveling, call a friend or family member, or if you’re in our assisted living or independent living housing, let us know your sidewalk needs shoveling or salted. If you usually feel comfortable driving, but get nervous when the temperatures drop, arrange a ride to appointments or to the store, or take advantage of our shuttle services. Also, be sure you know how to use the emergency alert system in your dwelling in case of an emergency.
By keeping these safety tips and tricks in mind, spring will be here in the blink of an eye. If you feel like you may need some additional help or services this winter, don’t hesitate to contact us to set those in place or hear about your options. We would be happy to help!