Like it or not, winter is here. If you are a caregiver for an adult living with a disability or for an aging loved one, it is time to help them prepare. The care management team from ACM Care offers the following winter safety tips.
#1: Home Heating Sources
Every winter we hear about families who lose their home or even their lives as a result of a malfunction with a heating source. Here are a few things to remember:
Furnace. Be sure your aging loved one has their furnace inspected and the filter changed. The heating company can spot potential cracks and problems and fix them before they cause trouble.
Carbon monoxide detector. This should be a staple in every home. Consumer Reports has a buying guide that can help you evaluate the available options and find one that best meets your loved one’s needs.
Smoke detectors. Fall is a good time to check to be sure there is a working smoke detector on every level and to change the batteries.
Space heaters. Older adults living on a fixed income often use space heaters to help manage utility costs, but they can be a hazard. Experts say to always follow the instructions that come with the heater. They typically require a 3 feet clearance in all directions. Make sure the heater has an automatic off in case it tips over. Finally, remind your loved one to turn off the heater and unplug it before going to bed or leaving the house.
#2: Auto Safety
If the loved one you are a caregiver for has their own vehicle, remind them to schedule a winter tune-up. They need to fill the anti-freeze and wiper fluid, as well as have the tire pressure checked, window wipers looked at, and the battery tested.
#3: Fall Prevention
Falls remain the number one source of injury for seniors. Icy sidewalks and outdoor stairways create even greater risks for seniors in the winter. If a landscape service to clear snow isn’t practical, here are a few suggestions to help keep your senior loved one safe this winter:
Non-skid shoes and boots. Make sure your senior loved one or family member with a disability has good footwear for winter. You can also add non-skids pads to their everyday shoes and boots to help make them safer.
Shoveling safety. If your older loved one shovels their own sidewalks and porch, invest in a good snow shovel or a snow shovel wheel. That not only helps to prevent a fall by making it easier to maintain balance, but it can also prevent back strain. Remind them to take frequent breaks when shoveling.
Call your local agency on aging. Communities often have programs available to help adults living with a disability and seniors with snow removal. Some are on a sliding scale fee or are no charge for lower income seniors.