We’ve had quite the winter weather throughout much of the US which means frigid temperatures, fierce winds and record snow accumulation. Keeping seniors safe and healthy throughout the year can be challenging enough, and this is even more so in severe winter conditions. Here are some tips to help caregivers:
- Wear sturdy shoes and take small, steady steps.
- Get an ice grip attachment for canes and discuss when and where to use a walker safely to navigate on rainy, snowy, or icy days.
- Download the Red Cross First Aid App and earn some badges for yourself or with your family. Share them on Facebook. This free app is available on the Apple iTunes or Google Play stores.
- Make some safety home improvements while you’re cooped up inside. Empty clutter around escape routes or fire-prone areas, install new grab bars in the bathroom, etc.
- Help seniors find relief from arthritis pain when it’s cold outside: 1) keep seniors warm with extra layers of clothing, including hats and warm socks, as well as additional blankets for naps or nighttime sleeping are great ways to keep warm and joints more flexible, 2) Talk with their physician about supplements like fish oil which can reduce inflammation as well as adding Vitamin D because deficiency might make joints hurt more; and 3) Address weight loss as losing just three pounds of weight reduces pressure on the knees three-fold.
- Stay active outside when it is safe.
- Encourage indoor exercise – Low impact fitness activities like swimming or Tai Chi increase blood flow and reduce stiffness. Strength exercises keep arthritic joints flexible and protect seniors from falls. Walking programs in indoor malls are a great option to avoid inclement weather and/or icy conditions. The Arthritis Foundation’s Walk with ease program can help get seniors up and moving in the cold weather too by clicking on this video link and taking a look at their website and other online tools.
- Try some video games. Seniors may need the grandkids’ help with this, but try a video game system like the WiiFit or PlayStation Move that offers another way to get active in the home. Games like bowling and tennis are sure to help seniors start moving and these games are a great way to get others involved, too.