Baby, it’s cold outside!
Winter is upon us and along with that first magical snowfall comes many challenges for the elderly. Here are some helpful tips to improving homecare in Montreal during the long winter months.
Stairway to Heaven? No thank you!
• Keep walkways and driveways well cleared. A clear pathway is essential to reducing the risk of falls that could lead to a serious injury. However, shoveling can be both physically and psychologically overwhelming for many seniors. Hiring a snow removal service or enlisting the help of family or a neighbor is preferable.
• Salt and sand walkways. Salt will help melt the ice and sand will provide better traction, both of which reduce the chance of slipping.
• Handrails are essential for safety on outdoor stairs.
• Good exterior lighting. The winter months get dark so early, it is important to remember to turn the lights on as you leave in order to avoid stumbling in the dark as you return home.
Walking in a Winter Wonderland
• Dress appropriately. Make sure to bundle up properly in a warm coat, hat, scarves and gloves. Exposed skin is extremely vulnerable to our freezing temperatures and blustery winds.
• Tread carefully and carry a big stick. Boots must have a good tread to provide stability and canes with an “ice-grip tip” can provide extra stability.
• Lend a hand. When accompanying an elderly person, it is best for the caregiver to hold onto the senior’s arm, not the other way around.
• If it’s breezy, take it easy! A walk can be a great form of exercise and do wonders for our mental health as well, but strong winds can cause an elderly person to lose their balance and fall causing injury. Check the weather before you head out!
On the Road Again
• Winterize your car. Driving can be especially difficult in the winter due to treacherous road conditions. Make sure the car has been properly serviced (i.e. winter tires, anti-freeze, windshield wipers and fluid) and keep an emergency kit with a blanket and flashlight in the car.
• Timing is everything. When possible, schedule outings and appointments so that you can avoid traffic and driving in the dark.
• Call ahead. Parking can be extremely challenging in the winter due to poor snow removal and street regulations. If you are going somewhere new, call to ask about parking and make sure you have clear directions.
• Stay in touch. Bring a cell phone with you in case of emergencies. Keep it charged, but DO NOT use it while driving! Let someone know where you are going, when you are leaving and when you expect to return.
• Taxi! If you have an appointment you simply can’t miss but don’t want to drive yourself for whatever reason (poor road conditions, unknown area, difficulty parking) consider calling a cab. You can also request a driver who will help you into the building. Be sure to tip for extra assistance.
When in doubt, don’t go out!
Despite all the preparations and precautions, some winter days are just too dangerous for an elderly person to venture out.
• Be prepared to stay in. Keeping enough basic supplies such as canned goods, toiletries and pet food to weather out a stormy day is an important part of eldercare in Montreal.
• Order–in. If you do happen to run out of any essentials, there are grocery stores and pharmacies that deliver. Call around in your area to find out which ones do and what their hours and delivery fees are.