With the worst of the winter weather ahead of us, it’s crucial that family members regularly check in on elderly loved ones who live alone to make sure they’re safe, happy, and healthy.
That’s because Ice, snow, and freezing temperatures add to the challenges older solo dwellers face throughout the year. Families can help by recognizing the various risks and taking steps to mitigate them so their loved ones can continue to independently.
Here are some of the more significant threats of living alone during the winter and how you can keep your loved one safe.
Social isolation and depression become more prevalent
Wintertime can cause older people who live on their own to become more socially isolated. A lack of engagement with family, friends, and the community can cause an increase in the risk of adverse physical conditions such as heart disease, cognitive deterioration, and high blood pressure.
Not everyone who is socially isolated becomes depressed. However, older people who live alone may be more susceptible to depression than those who live with a spouse or their family. Shorter days, colder weather, and even the holidays can negatively impact mental health.
Be sure to visit your elderly loved one in person as much as possible to give the biggest wellness boost possible. If bad weather makes in-person visits too risky, check in over the phone, text, instant messaging, FaceTime, Zoom, or Skype. You can also arrange for them to participate in a social activity, such as the Adult Day Program, walking groups, or even cooking classes.
Medical emergencies are an increased risk
As we age, the risk of falling or experiencing severe injury increases. Poor eyesight, balance issues, and other health concerns can make living alone dangerous and possibly life-threatening. If the person falls and can’t reach a telephone or other device to call for help, they could be undiscovered for hours or even days.
Purchasing your loved one a medical alert system can help them connect with your family or emergency services in the event of a fall or other injury.
Household chores can lead to negative health outcomes
Moving around freely becomes more challenging as people enter their vintage years. This situation becomes more problematic if they start to neglect everyday tasks such as vacuuming, cleaning surfaces, or removing clutter due to mobility issues. The result can be unsanitary living conditions filled with dirt and debris and fall hazards if messes begin to pile up. The person living in an unclean, crowded space may also start to feel overwhelmed and depressed over the situation.
Outdoor chores such as shovelling snow or hanging Christmas decorations can also pose a safety risk.
Families can help by pitching in on housekeeping duties at least twice per week. Also, ensure that the walkways, hallways, stairs, and other areas are free from clutter, wires, and other objects that could result in a fall.
They may begin to neglect their health and personal care
Older adults who live alone are at a much higher risk for malnutrition. They often reduce the number of daily meals they eat and lower their consumption of protein, fruits, and vegetables. Financial concerns, avoiding shopping due to the cold, and a lack of motivation to “cook for one” can be other major factors. Families can help by batch-cooking meals using fresh, healthy ingredients that will last the week.
They may also see no reason to maintain their hygiene, especially if they stay in for days when it’s cold out. Showering, brushing teeth, putting on clean clothes, and other personal care tasks contribute to a person’s health and self-esteem. You can help keep your loved ones feel fresh and comfortable by encouraging them to keep up with personal care.
However, some older people may require assistance with these tasks. Not everyone is comfortable bathing or being bathed by a family member, so it might be a good idea to hire a caregiver to help with personal care and provide complete eldercare support.
When you’re ready to explore your eldercare options, CareHop is ready to help.
Quality in-home elder care services in Etobicoke, Mississauga, and Brampton
CareHop specializes in providing quality eldercare services when families need a helping hand.
We specialize in providing respectful, empathetic in-home elder care services such as homemaking and meal preparation, personal care, activities, and casual companionship. Our elder care services are designed to positively impact your loved one’s life throughout the year.
Contact us today for a free, no-obligation discussion to discover how we can help you.