Winter Safety & Wellness For Older Adults

Winter is the season in which healthcare providers see increased illness and accidents in older adults. The professionals at Sarah Reed Senior Living have compiled advice and tips to help area seniors stay safe, healthy and happy this winter.

When the temperature drops, older adults run a higher risk of health problems and injuries related to the weather, including hypothermia, frostbite, malnutrition, infections, falls, and depression. The possibility of power outages also could put seniors at risk. Like most things in life, it is better to be prepared. Here are precautions everyone should take at this time of year:

Precautions to Take 

  • Stay indoors during cold & inclement weather:
    • Keep your prescriptions filled. Use a pharmacy that delivers.
    • A full freezer will stay colder than an empty one.  If an outage occurs only open the freezer if necessary to keep the cold in.
    • In the event that the electric has been out for a period of time check the temperature in your refrigerator. If it has been below 41°F for a period of time, discard the food.
    • To ensure your refrigerator temperatures are correct place a refrigerator thermometer on a back shelf in a corner.  Inexpensive thermometers can be purchased at dollar stores.
    • Keep indoor temperature at 65 degrees or warmer.
    • Have an emergency kit in your home including flashlights, batteries, blankets, canned or dried foods, a first aid kit, and emergency telephone numbers.


  • If you must go out remember the following:
    • Ask your doctor whether shoveling the snow is safe for you.
  • Cover Up!All parts of your body should be covered when you go out in the cold. If your skin turns red or dark or starts hurting, go inside right away.
    • Make sure steps and walkways are clear before you walk. Be especially careful if you see wet pavements that could be iced over.
    • Clear away snow and salt your walkways at home. Or hire someone to do it.
    • Wear boots with non-skid soles – this will prevent you from slipping.
    • If you use a cane, replace the rubber tip before it is worn smooth.
    • Consider an ice pick-like attachment that fits onto the end of the cane for additional traction.
    • If you drive have an emergency kit in your car including flashlight, batteries, blankets, non-perishable foods, tire repair kit, jumper cables, ice scraper, hat, and gloves.






Fall Prevention:

  • One in every three persons over 65 suffers a fall each year. Prevent falls by doing the following:
    • Talk to your doctor about a personalized fall prevention plan.
    • Keep cords away from areas where you walk.
    • Remove loose rugs or tack down them down. Only use rugs with nonskid backing.
    • Add lights in dimly lit areas and at the top and bottom of stairs.
    • Use nightlights in bedrooms, halls and bathrooms.
    • Clean up clutter – especially near staircases.
    • Put hand rails on both sides of any steps or stairs in or outside of your home.
    • Add “grab bars” near the toilet and bath tub, and no slip decals in the tub or shower.
    • Wear firm shoes that tie that are not slippery on the bottom.
    • Don’t walk around in loose slippers or socks.
    • Take extra care & time when cleaning or doing household tasks.
    • Use extension tools and grabbers.


Infection Control:

  • Protect yourself from Flu, infections, and viruses by doing the following:
    • Get a flu shot!
    • Sleep well – aim for at least 7 hours
  • Eat a well-balanced diet
    • Exercise or meditate
    • Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth.  These are portals of entry for germs.
    • Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer frequently, especially after coming in contact with these potential germ “hot spots”:
      • Menus
      • Railings
      • Cell phones
      • Money
      • Elevator buttons
      • ATM machine buttons
      • Credit/Debit card machine buttons
      • Vending machines
      • Gym equipment


Beat the Winter Blues:

  • Grey skies, short daylight hours and staying indoors can contribute to depression. Fight it by:
    • Getting out on sunny, good weather days.
    • Schedule family or friends to visit you during the winter if possible.
    • Watch funny shows/movies, or read humorous books. Laughter is good for you!
    • Play upbeat music.
    • When the sun is shining, sit by a window.
    • Exercise!
    • Pray or Meditate.
    • Engage in hobbies or projects you enjoy.
    • Organize old photos and reminisce.
    • Share family stories, and recipes with your children and grandchildren.
    • Ask a technology savvy grandchild help you access the internet.