- Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and keep batteries up to date. (Many fire districts will install detectors for seniors at no cost; it’s worth a call!)
- Make sure space heaters are in open space, with at least a three-foot margin from bedding, clothing, or other flammables. Secure the cord to prevent falls.
- Update your home’s fire extinguisher. An “ABC” label will cover multiple uses.
- If you will use a fireplace, clean the flue before the season, and cover the opening with a protective screen. If depending on a furnace, act now to schedule servicing and filter replacement.
- If the power goes out (and in the Pacific Northwest we can count on it!), make sure your loved one has a “Plan B”. Is there an alternate source of heat? Is there a neighbor or family member who will come if the caregiver is not there? Make sure your senior knows what to expect. Provide easy to use flashlights next to favorite chairs and by the bedside.
- Place a warm blanket in the car during trips in case there is a weather related delay.
- Check your loved one’s footwear. Are their slippers appropriate for their current level of mobility? Do their shoes, socks, and slippers fit well and have treads?
- Consider what might prompt a senior to venture outdoors: getting the paper or the mail? Letting pets in and out? Your senior will likely be relieved to know that their Cascade Companion Care caregiver can handle or assist with these tasks during daily visits.
- Survey all pathways and sidewalks and consider how to keep surfaces slip-free with salt, indoor-outdoor non-skid carpeting, or handrails.
- Seniors who are a fall risk and who might sometimes be alone should consider a medical alert device that can connect them to emergency services. Most alert devices are worn on the wrist or on a necklace and are activated by pressing a button.
- If you have other concerns about eliminating cold weather fall risks, our Executive Director, Jon Senn, who is an Occupational Therapist, can do an assessment of your home.
- Make sure your senior has had all preventive flu, pneumonia and shingles vaccines recommended by their health professional.
- If your loved one has electrically powered equipment that is a health necessity, consider purchasing a small generator orcontacting the PUD for direction in providing backup power.
- Practice the mantra, “When in doubt, throw it out!”, especially after any power outage, to prevent food poisoning.
- Remind seniors to drink plenty of water! Warm, stuffy rooms and a preference for hot beverages that contain caffeine may lead to dehydration.
- Gather together a comfort kit with cough drops (or a throat spray for clients with swallowing problems , lip balm, kleenex, hand lotion, and non-caffeinated tea (if desired). Add an index card with important phone numbers, and post a duplicate on the refrigerator.
Finally, remember that not all warmth comes from a heat source! Knowing that a friendly companion caregiver will be making a scheduled stop can brighten the day, lighten the load, and warm the heart.
We wish you a safe, healthy, comfortable season!