As the cold of winter has taken hold over the United States, seniors are doing their best to stay warm as they live independently in their homes. However, that winter cold raises the risk of injury caused by fire or burns from a wide array of heat sources. By working with your senior loved ones, and their home care provider, you can help ensure that seniors are safe during the cold of winter.
1. Provide Ample Heat – Safely!
While some seniors are reluctant to turn on the furnace for fear of a high energy bill, others may be apt to crank up space heaters in an effort to regulate body temperature. Ensuring that seniors have enough safe heat sources can help stave off cold-related illness. Central heat & air is a safe, easy-to-use source of heat, although space heaters can also be used. To reduce the risk of fire from space heaters, set them up in open areas, where they can’t catch clothing or papers on fire, and keep them out of walkways to reduce fall risk. Conversely, if wood heat is the only source of heat, in-home caregivers can help keep a fire going without risking burns for seniors.
A home care software or home care system, such as ClearCare, can be invaluable for in-home caregivers working to keep seniors warm. Heat sources in the home can be noted in the home care software, and tasks in the home care system can also be used to remind caregivers to keep the thermostat set at a client-requested temperature and monitor the use of space heaters. Caregivers can also note any unsafe behaviors – like using pilot lights on a stove for heat – within their home care software or home care system for review by other caregivers.
2. Provide Warm Food & Drinks
A hot meal on a cold day can help warm up anyone’s bones. However, for seniors with vision or stability issues, simple tasks like brewing a pot of coffee or cooking up a pot of stew can be incredibly dangerous. Hot coffee spilled in the midst of a fall can cause serious burns, while forgotten pots are a kitchen fire hazard. However, home care software or a home care system, such as ClearCare, can help seniors safely get the warm, comforting food and drink they crave.
Notes within a home care system or home care software can outline a senior’s favorite warm meals, and with help in preparing meals, pre-made portions can be left in the refrigerator for simple re-heating in the microwave. Home caregivers can also help serve up warm drinks, and offer a listening ear for some good conversation with a cup of coffee.
3. Monitor Heat Sources
Some seniors may use an electric blanket to keep warm on cold nights. Caregivers should monitor the heat, and quality of such appliances to ensure seniors aren’t scorched or old cords don’t pose a fire risk. A task reminder in the home care software, or home care system can also help remind caregivers to check and turn off these heat sources at some point after bed time, or in the morning, depending on client preference.
Winter danger can be mitigated with care from an in-home private duty provider, and with the help of a home care software or home care system, like ClearCare, caregivers will have an extra hand in keeping seniors safe.