Senior Safety Tips: Winterizing Your Home

Man with snow shovel cleans sidewalk

Winter weather is here! While we all love watching the pretty snowfall, winter can be a hazardous time when seniors who are living alone need to venture out. The cold brings with it snow and ice, not to mention temperatures that may tax the pipes and boilers in an older home. Falling is the Achilles heel of every aging senior, and aging bones and muscles just don’t bounce back like they did when we were younger. They don’t bounce at all!

Winter is a time of additional anxiety on the part of the children of elder parents who are living alone. If you haven’t already, take the time to go through mom and dad’s home (inside and out!) and make sure it’s ready and safe for colder temperatures. Here’s a checklist to follow when winterizing your senior loved one’s home, from our assisted living team in Gloucester County.

Make sure the home is heated and well-insulated. First and foremost, mom and dad’s thermostat should be set to at least 68 degrees during the day or even a bit higher, depending on their preference. Seniors perceive the cold differently than younger folks, so it’s not uncommon to find that Mom isn’t comfortable until the temperature is set to 74F! Of course, showing her the heating bill may help her reconcile to a cooler thermostat setting…(-:  It’s also important to have any questionable cracks repaired to ensure proper insulation within the home. If you haven’t yet, you should also have their heating system checked. It’s recommended for furnaces, boilers, and chimneys to be serviced at least once a year to clear any buildup and to keep them running smoothly through the cold season especially.

Prevent falls caused by snow and ice. Most likely, your senior parent should not be shoveling the whole driveway and walkways on their own anymore. Shoveling is hard and strenuous work, especially for a senior who may already have mobility or health issues. The snow and sneaky black ice underneath can cause anyone to fall if they’re not paying close enough attention. Help mom or dad out this winter and keep their driveway and nearby sidewalks clear of ice and snow yourself, or hire a reliable local high school kid to do it. This is also a good time to hire someone if your parents’ steps or handrails need repairing. Fixing any structural issues will further ensure mom or dad’s safety when going outside this winter.

Keep a big bag of melting salt by the front door too. If you can get your parents to remember to throw salt on the walkway after it’s shoveled, that will go a long way to preventing slips and falls. If they are still driving, make sure a clear salted path exists from their door to their car, and/or their mailbox.

Take extra steps to avoid freezing pipes. If the pipes in mom and dad’s home aren’t properly cared for this time of year, they could burst – which in turn causes a domino effect of other costly repairs. Protect against frozen pipes by insulating those that could be susceptible to freezing. When experiencing severe temperature drops, remind your senior parents to keep warm water running in a few faucets to guard against freezing and bursting. You could also consider having an emergency pressure release valve installed within their plumbing system. This can add an extra layer of protection against increased pressure caused by freezing pipes.

Keeping seniors safe and warm at our assisted living community in Pitman, NJ

When the health and safety risks of alone outweigh the benefits of owning a home, it may be time for your senior family member to consider moving into an assisted living community. At UMC at Pitman, we understand that many seniors initially resist the idea because they view themselves as capable and independent. However, the preconceived notions they have about living in assisted living are outdated and no longer true! UMC residents can retain their individuality, continue pursuing their hobbies and interests, and are encouraged to live independently, all within a safe, secure and comfortable environment.

For more information about our assisted living services at UMC at Pitman in Gloucester County, please contact us today or visit our website at:

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