Brrrrr, It’s Cold Out – Let’s Help Keep Our Seniors Warm in Their Homes

Brrrrr, It’s Cold Out – Let’s Help Keep Our Seniors Warm in Their Homes

Many of us look forward to winter and the cold, especially after a long hot summer, but too much cold can be harmful to our senior loved ones — and in some cases even deadly.

Being cold outside is one thing, but we need to keep it outside, particularly for senior loved ones who are especially susceptible to its risks.

Dangerously cold weather can occur across the US, even in areas that are typically warmer.

Is your senior loved one prepared for the mercury to drop to dangerous levels? Are you, as their family caregiver, prepared to help them deal with the cold and stay safe?

These tips will help you prepare your senior — and you — to get through whatever cold this winter has in store.

Home Heating System

One of the keys to staying warm is, not surprisingly, the home heating system. No matter what type of system is in your senior’s home, there are steps you can take to help ensure it is ready to keep it warm inside, regardless of the temperature outside.

  • Test the heating system to make sure it is operating properly. It might be helpful to get a maintenance contract to have the system checked regularly and kept in good working order by an HVAC professional.
  • Adjust the thermostat settings to the desired temperature range to keep your loved one comfortable. Consider installing programmable thermostats that can be set to different temperatures as desired (and safe) day or night.
  • Change the filters if needed to assure proper air flow. If in doubt about how long they’ve been there, go ahead and change them. Be sure to write the date on the new ones so next time you’ll know how long they’ve been there.
  • Check air vents to ensure they aren’t covered or blocked.
  • Make sure your loved one has the money to pay the bills — even if you have to pay the bill for them. This is an important point that’s too often overlooked. After all, a working system is no good if your senior loved one doesn’t run it for fear of getting a bill that they don’t feel they can afford to pay. If money is a problem, find out if your senior qualifies for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

Many whose homes don’t have working heating systems or who think it is too expensive turn to portable heaters to keep warm. If those are in your senior’s home, review the instructions to ensure they are set up and used properly to prevent a fire or carbon monoxide poisoning.

Help the Home Keep the Cold Outside

Even the best home heating systems can have trouble keeping the home warm — and cost a lot more to do it — if the home is letting in the cold. There are some steps you can take to help your senior loved one’s home keep out the cold air.

  • Make sure all windows are closed tightly. Remember, they may have been opened for the comfortable fall weather. Be sure to check the top and bottom of each one for tight closure.
  • If the house has storm windows, ensure those are properly installed.
  • Check the caulking around windows to make sure the cold outdoor air stays there. Likewise the weatherstripping around both windows and doors.
  • Look for any other places cold air might get in, such as under doors (install door sweeps if needed).

Many local utilities have low or no-cost programs to check leaks in the home and help seal them.

Warm Clothing & Wraps

Dressing warmly in the cold weather is important, whether in the home or outside. With the right clothes and maybe some blankets, your senior loved one can stay warm while keeping the thermostat a bit lower to save money.

  • Check to see if your senior loved one has warm indoor and outdoor clothing that fits. Remember, it may be stored away since last winter.
  • Make sure there are sufficient blankets where your loved one will need them. Remember, carrying large blankets from room to room can create tripping hazards for seniors or may be so inconvenient they simply won’t do it. You may need to help them get more.
  • Get out the slippers and replace them if needed. Warm feet and firm footing are both important.

This is one area in which planning ahead can be helpful, since the selection of warm clothing is often depleted by the time the coldest weather hits. If that’s the situation you face, you might get what you can to help your senior now and make a list to keep in mind when winter clothes hit the stores next time.

Other Important Checks

  • Make sure sprinkler systems are turned off when the weather turns freezing to avoid icy walkways.
  • Arrange help for your loved one in shoveling snow off walkways and driveways, if needed, to avoid over-exertion and exposure to the cold.
  • Check fireplaces for proper ventilation.
  • If your senior loved one lives alone, check in regularly.

You can more information on preparing for extreme cold and winter storms at Ready.gov.

We hope this winter is a safe and enjoyable one for your senior loved ones – and for you!

We'd love to hear your thoughts!




Get Bi-Weekly Email Updates

Email addresses used ONLY for sending updates

 
 
Proud to be included as #3!


 
Amazon Bestselling Caregiving Books
The Conscious Caregiver: A Mindful Approach to Caring for Your Loved One Without Losing Yourself
Linda Abbit - Publisher: Adams Media - Paperback: 256 pages
$10.99
The Caregiver's Toolbox: Checklists, Forms, Resources, Mobile Apps, and Straight Talk to Help You Provide Compassionate Care
Carolyn P. Hartley, Peter Wong - Publisher: Taylor Trade Publishing - Edition no. 0 (08/03/2015) - Paperback: 288 pages
$15.96
The Emotional Survival Guide for Caregivers: Looking After Yourself and Your Family While Helping an Aging Parent
Barry J. Jacobs - Publisher: The Guilford Press - Edition no. 1 (03/17/2006) - Paperback: 261 pages
$11.71
Chicken Soup for the Caregiver's Soul: Stories to Inspire Caregivers in the Home, Community and the World (Chicken Soup for the Soul)
Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, LeAnn Thieman - Publisher: Backlist, LLC - a unit of Chicken Soup of the Soul Publishing LLC - Edition no. 1 (08/28/2012) - Paperback: 384 pages
$12.63
The 36-Hour Day: A Family Guide to Caring for People Who Have Alzheimer Disease, Related Dementias, and Memory Loss
Nancy L. Mace, Peter V. Rabins - Publisher: Grand Central Life & Style - Edition no. 5 (09/25/2012) - Mass Market Paperback: 640 pages
$9.00