There’s a clear difference between winter care needs and summer care needs. While the services family caregivers provide may not change, the differences in weather do impact what caregivers need to watch for. Here are some of the issues seniors and their families face in the winter months.
Snow in Front of Doors
Snow drifts after a storm can block doors. If there are areas where this happens, make sure your parents have a secondary exit. Someone needs to get outside and clear away snow from all exits to allow your parents to get outside in case of a fire or gas leak.
After a snow storm, dryer vents, HVAC exhaust pipes, and sewer/septic vents may be blocked by the snow. That can lead to fumes and carbon monoxide building up within the home. Make sure someone is able to get outside and clear snow from all of those areas before appliances operate.
As temperatures plummet, pipes may freeze. Your parents need to be on top of these issues. They want to take care of the frozen pipe before it bursts. In many cases, a hair dryer blown in the area where the freeze is can help get the water flowing again without having to call a plumber. Heat tape may work, but it can pose a fire risk, too. It’s best to talk to professionals and have the heat tape installed properly.
Broken or Inefficient Heating Systems
If your parents live alone, you need to know they’re warm enough. Start off the season having their boiler or furnace system inspected and cleaned. If there are problems a licensed contractor can help diagnose and repair the issues. If a new system is needed, it’s expensive but important.
You don’t want your parents dealing with carbon monoxide poisoning. Make sure they have working alarms. You also don’t want them being too cold and suffering from hypothermia. If their heating system isn’t keeping their house warm enough, you may need to set up space heaters that have safety features like timers and automatic shut-off if the unit is bumped.
Icy Steps and Sidewalks
After snow or rain, steps and sidewalks may have an ice layer that looks wet rather than icy. You need to have environmentally-friendly salt, sand, or even fireplace ashes available to keep your parents from slipping and falling when checking the mail, going for a walk, or walking to the car.
Keep other caregivers on the schedule. You don’t want to run into a complication that leaves your parent alone for a day or two. Call a home care agency to talk about respite care and other beneficial services caregivers offer.
If you or an aging loved one are considering caregivers in West Trenton, NJ, please call the caring staff at Care Street Home Care. You can reach our Mercer/Burlington Division at (609) 496-5666.
Dr. Shelly, as he is fondly known, has served as an Alzheimer’s Support Group Facilitator in Mercer County and is a Certified Dementia Instructor. Knowledgeable, compassionate, and unusually devoted, his guidance is crucial in helping families understand their options and render decisions for their loved ones’ care plan. Dr. Shelly’s extensive experience, sincere and pleasant demeanor, and professional affiliations have made him a vital asset to Care Street.