Increasing Senior Safety and Decreasing Senior Stress During the Holidays

The weekend after Thanksgiving is when most people really start thinking about their holiday plans. But the winter weather of Wisconsin and the stress of all that shopping, planning, and preparing can impact seniors differently than younger adults.

Speaking of winter weather, be prepared for an emergency by stocking up on supplies such as shelf stable food and bottled water in case you are ever snowed it. Have friends or family check in every so often to make sure everything is okay.

Winter weather brings snow, ice, and increased fall risk for seniors. Even in the best of weather those over 65 are more likely to be injured from a fall. Put down road salt, kitty litter, or sand to keep driveways, sidewalks, porches, and steps as ice free as possible. You shouldn’t let snow accumulate on walkways; however seniors should take care when shoveling. People over 65, especially anyone with high blood pressure or a history of heart disease should leave the shoveling to others. In addition to potentially causing a heart attack, the physical stress of shoveling can cause muscle strains and falls.

If are able to shovel make sure to stretch and warm-up with light exercise before attacking those drifts. Because seniors are more susceptible to the cold, dress warmly and in layers to avoid hypothermia. Make sure to take breaks. And no matter your age, if you experience chest pain or any other heart attack symptoms call 911 immediately.

While you need to vigilant about preventing falls outside, it’s important to guard against falls inside too. Those holiday decorations are pretty, but they also pose potential fall risks. Keep floors clutter-free and walkways clear. Make sure there are no cords running across the floor or other decorations you may stumble over.

If you are planning on visiting family for the holidays be aware of fall risks in their homes such as area rugs or stairs. If you are having an older relative visit, think about making your home more accessible. Take a look around and clear up any potential hazards. If older relatives will be staying overnight, use nightlights in the hallways and offer a room nearest the bathroom, on the first floor if possible.

The dinner table is often the center of holiday celebrations, but try not to overindulge. Plan your daily menu with these celebrations in mind. If you know everyone will be gathering for a feast at dinner, consider having a lighter lunch. If you are following a specific diet due to a medical condition (low sodium, diabetic, etc.) try to stick to it, even with all the temptations. If you will be hosting someone with a restricted diet, make sure you prepare healthy options so they don’t feel like they are missing out.

Many times an older relative hosts the big holiday party because they have been doing so for years, but all that planning and preparation can be exhausting and stressful. Consider passing the torch to the next generation. Don’t want to give it up just yet, ask your family members to pitch in by helping you decorate, prepare food, or clean up. For adult children of aging parents, consider offering to take the reins this year. Just make sure to keep your parents involved in the planning process by asking them to contribute a favorite dish or help decorate.

Whatever your plans this holiday season, try your best to stay safe and relaxed. Do everything you can to ensure you spend this holiday and those to come with the people you love the most.

Home Health United is a nonprofit agency providing home health, palliative care, hospice, home medical equipment, home infusion pharmacy services, and community health services, including VoiceCare a personal emergency response system. For more information on how our services can help you or a loved one remain safely at home, request an Informational Visit by calling 1-800-924-2273.