Mortality rates increase by 15 percent in the winter over summer. Hypothermia, flu, pneumonia, falls, carbon monoxide poisoning and house fires all contribute to the higher rate during colder months. Elderly citizens are more at risk to suffer the consequences of winter weather. Even people as young as 60 years old are susceptible. Overexertion in winter accounts for one half of the deaths in elderly folks. Over 75 year olds are five times more likely to die from hypothermia than younger people are.
Elderly people are not able to regulate their body temperature as well due to a slower metabolism and less physical activity. Further, arthritis, diabetes, poor circulation, high blood pressure and complications from strokes can all cause an inability to feel cold. Doctors also say that older people tend not to shiver—a way our body stays warm—as much.
Do you have elderly neighbors or family members without much support? The best thing you can do for them is make sure they are prepared for winter weather. Before a storm hits, pay them a visit and make sure they are as prepared as you are. Here is a checklist of things you can do for the elderly to keep them safe:
- Bring them blankets
- Make sure they have mittens and warm clothes
- Buy them a scarf, so if they must go outside they can cover their mouths
- Take them to the grocery store for bottled water and canned food
- Shovel snow in their walkways
- Wrap the pipes
- Drive them to the pharmacy for a weeks worth of essential medications
- Rock salt or sand their walkways to prevent slips and falls
- Bring them their mail and newspapers daily
- Check space heaters to make sure they are being used safely and properly
- Set their thermostats at no lower than 68 degrees Fahrenheit
- Give them a cell phone and leave them your phone number
- Check in on them at least once a day during a winter storm
- Refresh the batteries in their flashlights. If they don’t have a flashlight, give them a few
- Contact their doctors for back-up plans if they are dependent on electrical-powered medical equipment
- Pack them a cold weather kit
Services such as Meals on Wheels and local senior centers may not deliver or pick up when roads are icy. When winter weather hits, Meals on Wheels and other similar services should deliver extra meals in case roads are impassable. Some communities have assistance programs for the elderly living on a fixed income to help with energy bills or provide help with insulating homes or performing repairs on heaters. Check your local charitable services for extra assistance with elderly neighbors and family members.
Look out for each other this winter and stay safe out there! Did you miss yesterday’s post? Click here to read “30 Days of Preparing for Severe Winter Weather Day 14: What is the Best Way to Stay Warm During Late Season Hunts?”