Keep your Elderly Loved One Safe & Healthy this Winter by Following these 7 Tips
“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth.” – Edith Sitwell
The winter season is upon us and we have no doubt you’re pulling out your warmest blankets, dusting off your winter jackets and taking advantage of the sun spot in your living room. Whether it’s on purpose or an as-needed basis, we end up making adaptions and changes both in our home and around our lifestyles to keep ourselves warm and safe during winter.
This is no different for your elderly loved ones living at home.
As an aged care advocacy & consultancy service located in Victoria, we believe that making even a small lifestyle or home adjustment will have a profound positive impact for any senior living at home.
With that said, we’ve collected some of our most useful tips (from simple, easy changes to bigger ones) for you and your loved one to adopt during these frosty winter months ahead.
Tip #1: Hire a carer who can visit your love one’s home during winter
If this isn’t something you’ve organised already, consider engaging a carer to visit your loved one’s home during winter. Not only will they be able to assist them with day-to-day tasks in their home, but they will more importantly provide a healthy dose of socialising for your loved one.
Connecting your loved one to the right carer is a service we offer at Well Placed Care.
Tip #2: Heat the home safely & check the heating system is working correctly
It’s important to keep a warm home during the winter months. Heaters and fireplaces are a great source of this warmth, but can be dangerous if they’re not serviced regularly (in fact this is one of the main causes of fires in homes) and make sure they are. Carbon monoxide leakage cannot be seen or smelt, so keep an eye out for the following warning signs if there is an excessive amount in the home:
- Blurred vision
- Nausea or vomiting
In the event that you notice any of these symptoms in your loved one, seek fresh air and medical attention immediately.
Some preventative measures include:
- Check that your smoke detectors are working and not out-of-date
- Keep some air-flow throughout the home by keeping a couple of windows partially open
- Keep heaters with open elements or flames a safe distance from anything that may catch on fire – this can include furniture, curtains and bedding
Tip #3: Request shopping assistance
Save your loved one from heading out into the wet and cold by connecting into a service that will send someone to shop on their behalf.
Not only will your loved one’s health be protected from winter chills, flus and colds by staying in their warm homes, their pantry and fridge can be fully stocked throughout the week. This is particularly important given the unpredictability of COVID-19 lockdowns.
Organising shopping assistance for your loved one is a service we offer at Well Placed Care.
Tip #4: Book an OT (Occupational Therapist) assessment to make sure your loved one’s home and surroundings are safe
The purpose of an OT assessment is to determine someone’s current functioning (involving identifying areas of strengths and weaknesses) in all aspects of daily life. From here, recommendations are developed in order to alleviate identified difficulties so that the person is as independent as possible.
Booking an OT assessment during winter means taking other considerations into account because of the colder weather.
We’ve organised OT assessments for clients in the past who’ve benefitted greatly from these recommendations, making positive changes within their homes to heighten their physical autonomy, safety and independence.
Tip #5: Stay connected to your community through social support groups
As people retreat more indoors, it’s important that your loved one stays socially connected to others for their mental and emotional wellbeing. Take some time with your loved one to look at what kinds of social support and senior groups are running in their local community. If they already have a social group, check that they’re transportation is organised, add calendar reminders and make sure these spaces are sufficiently heated.
Here are some great social and senior support groups in Victoria to get you started:
- Australian Multicultural Community Services (AMCS) – They organise social support groups for seniors that provide an opportunity for seniors to attend and participate in culturally appropriate social interactions: https://www.amcservices.org.au/senior-support-services/social-support-groups/
- Neighbourhood House Victoria – a Neighbourhood House is a community centre that open up people’s interpersonal networks, and break down social isolation through community participation and inclusion. Find your loved one’s local Neighbourhood House by clicking this link: https://www.nhvic.org.au/find-a-neighbourhood-house/
- Australian Red Cross – Companionship & Social Support – Red Cross provide social connection programs that can support your loved one by linking them to other people & their community. Programs include home visits, social outings, group activities, peer support & social phone calls: https://www.redcross.org.au/get-help/community-services/companionship-social-support
Tip #6: Stay physically active
As tempting as it is to sit next to your heater all day, inactivity coupled with reduced daylight can negatively impact your loved one’s mental and physical health.
Organising regular physical activities for them will improve their overall health by elevating mood levels, reducing stress, getting the blood flowing and their body temperature up, and physically strengthen their body.
On the days when the sun is shining, encourage them to do the things they love; take a walk through their favourite park, potter around in their garden, or attend an event or activity in their local community.
Here are a few exercise programs designed for seniors:
- Get Active Victoria – free online exercise classes for all fitness levels, including seniors: https://www.getactive.vic.gov.au/
- YMCA Victoria – exercise classes for people 60 and over. Their program helps you to manage health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and arthritis. The programs are also designed to slow the effects of ageing including the onset of osteoporosis, while improving mobility and strength to reduce the risk of falls: http://victoria.ymca.org.au/discover/health-wellness/programs/older-adults.html
Tip #6: Stay physically active
As simple as this advice may sound, drinking plenty of water during the winter months is important. Getting dehydrated during winter is more common than you may think! This is because we spend a lot of our time in heated environments (heated rooms, sitting near fireplaces) but forget to drink sufficient amount of fluids as we don’t sweat.
Keeping your loved one’s fluid intake up will:
- Reduce risk of low blood pressure
- Improve mental performance
- Reduce weakness, dizziness and subsequent increased risk of falls
- Reduce pressure sores and skin conditions
- Keep them hydrated
- Minimise the risk of urinary tract infections
We’re passionate about helping seniors in our community not only feel safe and healthy, but thrive socially, mentally and emotionally.
If you should need any support in connecting your loved one to high-quality aged care services, contact us today.
Whether you’re searching for the right service to future-proof against your specific circumstances or require an immediate care solution, we’ll be able to offer information that is informed, current, accurate and suited to your specific care needs.