No matter where an aging loved one resides, nasty weather strikes from time-to-time and can take many forms, including tornadoes, hurricanes, thunderstorms, high winds, and heavy snowfalls. Harsh weather can be especially hard on those that are age 65-and-over who also lives alone. Therefore keeping seniors safe during inclement weather is a top priority.
There are many benefits of aging in place for the elderly. However, the topic of keeping seniors safe during inclement weather is undoubtedly top of mind. Fortunately, there are several reliable ways to keep the elderly out of harm’s way when storms strike.
Aging adults bodies do not adjust as well to sudden changes in temperature. There are two opposite extremes to be concerned about:
- Staying Warm
If living in an area prone to harsh winter weather, snowstorms and bitter cold, make sure there is plenty of non-perishable foods on hand, along with warm blankets and heavy clothing. During an actual power outage, keep them moving around continuously to stay warm.
- Staying Cool
There is a significant risk of suffering heat-related illness in elderly populations in areas that have extreme summer weather. Heat-related illness occurs when the body is exposed to extreme heat and cannot properly cool itself causing the body temperature to rise. High humidity can make it worse because it does not allow sweat to evaporate, which is the body’s natural way of removing heat. Tips to prevent heat-related illness in older adults include dressing appropriately, drinking plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration, checking the temperature in the home, and seeking relief in an air-conditioned environment.
Preparing for Power Outages
Nasty storms can cause widespread power outages. As a result, focus preparation on the following:
- Emergency Supplies
Pack an emergency kit for them using a waterproof bag on wheels that contains a list of phone numbers for their utility providers, pharmacy, doctor, and local police and fire departments. Also include copies of their relevant personal documents, enough non-perishable food, and water for three days, and extra prescription medications. Add a flashlight and batteries, and any of their other essential medical supplies they might need during a prolonged emergency. Together, these steps go a long way in keeping seniors safe during inclement weather
- Medical Devices
Often seniors rely on in-home medical equipment or devices. If so, notify the electric company beforehand so they can prioritize restoring power to the home as soon as possible. Make sure there is a back-up power source available as well.
- Carbon Monoxide (CO)
If using a gas, wood or kerosene fireplace or stove in their home during an outage, the senior is risking inhaling harmful carbon monoxide fumes that are virtually undetectable. As a result, make sure that any such device is well-vented and in good working condition before bad weather arrives. And, install several battery-operated CO detectors around the home.
Driving in Bad Weather
If a senior loved one still drives, they may be forced to do so during poor weather conditions. Here are some driving tips to keep seniors safe during inclement weather:
- Prepare Car
Make sure their car is sound mechanically, that they have good tires for all road conditions, and new wiper blades. In case they get stranded, stock the vehicle with a roadside emergency kit that contains:
- Jumper cables
- First aid kit
- Extra clothes
- Windshield scraper and brush
- Bag of sand or kitty litter
- Flashlight and shovel
- Bottled water and non-perishable foods
- Cell Phone
Seniors should have a fully functional cell phone with them that shows their family members as an “In Case of Emergency (ICE)” in their contact list, and a plug-in car phone charger for added security.
- Road Safety
It is always best for seniors to avoid driving on wet or icy roadways, bridges, and overpasses. However, if they must go out in bad weather, help them choose the safest route. Gently remind them to never pass through any considerable amount of standing or moving water.
Coordinate Periodic Wellness Checks
Have a plan in place with siblings and other family members for someone to follow up with your elderly loved one every few hours when they are homebound due to a storm. Take turns checking in with your loved one via:
- Phone calls
- Facetime or Skype
- Stopping by the home
- Asking the local police to do wellness checks
How A Home Care Agency Can Help
Keeping an aging in place senior safe during inclement weather can be challenging, especially when the family lives far away. When needing a helping hand, call Hibernian Home Care. As a nationally accreditated and state licensed Home Care agency, there are protocols in place for caring for at-home seniors, even during bad storms, power outages, and other emergencies. The professional Hibernian Home Care caregivers understand the challenges of caring for the elderly. They are trained to recognize symptoms of potential health problems associated with extreme temperature conditions unique to aging adults.
If you would like to learn how Hibernian Home Care can help ensure the safety and wellbeing of an aging loved one, give us a call at 732-481-1148 or contact us online to schedule a complimentary initial consultation with our registered nurse and case manager.