February 2015 As Americans prepare for yet another blast of winter weather, local caregivers are preparing their seniors for the cold temperatures and possibly life threatening conditions with Senior Storm Kits. Visiting Angels is handing out kits with specific items that could come in handy if seniors find themselves stranded during a snow storm, or any other type of inclement weather.
*Older Americans can’t feel cold weather shifts like younger people, and they may suffer from hypothermia without even knowing they’re in danger. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, more than half of all hypothermia-related deaths happen in people over age 65.
“Many seniors we care for either live alone or they don’t have family nearby to check on them during dangerous winter weather. We care for our seniors like they’re family so we like to go the extra mile to make sure they are not only aware of impending winter storms, but they are also prepared,” says Larry Meigs, CEO of Visiting Angels. “We care for thousands of older Americans and it’s important to have plans in place to keep our seniors safe.”
Senior Storm Kits Include:
- Bottled water
- Flashlight and fresh batteries
- First Aid Kit
- Weekly pill box
- Cereal bars
- Winter Safety Checklist
“These Senior Storm Kits can be used to prepare for a variety of weather conditions, not just snow storms,” says Meigs. “Research shows nearly a third of the senior population, age 65 and older, live alone. Whether seniors are in a direct path of a winter snow storm, it’s always good to be prepared for any type of inclement weather. Our caregivers do their best to battle inclement weather to take care of our seniors in their homes but these items are important for seniors to have on hand in case they find themselves without their typical cold weather care.”
Cold Weather Caregivers help seniors with:
Outdoor Tasks – caregivers can do outdoor tasks for seniors, such as broom light snow from patios and get the mail. People who are outdoors in cold weather should avoid sudden exertion, like lifting a heavy shovel full of snow. Even walking through heavy, wet snow or snow drifts can strain a person's heart, according to the American Heart Association.
Proper Dressing – dress seniors in loose-fitting layers when heading outside. High winds, snow and rain can steal body heat. Wind is especially dangerous because it removes the layer of heated air from around your body. Layers of loose clothing trap air, creating a protective insulation.
Thermostat Setting - experts suggest to keep the thermostat at least 65 degrees in cold weather months. Sometimes seniors forget to turn up the heat or will try to save money by not turning up the heat.
Insulation Check - caregivers can check doors and windows to make sure cold air is not getting inside seniors’ homes.
Blanket Check – be sure seniors are using extra blankets, not electric blankets, to sleep. Electric blankets are a known fire hazard.
Check and/or change batteries in carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors.
Hypothermia Check – this condition occurs when the body can’t produce enough energy to keep the internal body temperature warm enough. Hypothermia can be fatal. Most of these deaths are caused by heart failure.
Symptoms of hypothermia include: mental confusion, slowed reactions, lack of coordination, shivering and sleepiness.
The risk of developing hypothermia can increase when seniors have under-active thyroids, diabetes or heart disease, or take certain prescriptions. Some medications that are used to treat anxiety, depression or nausea, or even some over-the-counter cold remedies can increase an older person’s risk for hypothermia