January 1, 2022

Brrr…It’s Getting Cold

Winter Safety for our aging loved ones

As the year comes to a close, the winter months arrive… bringing lower temperatures, and higher risks. These risks affect everyone, but especially older adults. Colder weather can bring about challenges such as exposure, risk of falls, and physical limitations. As we go about our daily lives this winter, there are some important things to keep in mind.

Safety and security are important to think about when winter hits. Listed below are three areas of concern and tips to keep older adults safe, while preserving their freedom and independence.

1. Power outages can occur at any time throughout the year, but especially during stormy, winter weather. It is important to be prepared, as older adults are more susceptible to hypothermia.

  • Set thermostats above 65 degrees Fahrenheit during the winter months. [1]
  • Have extra blankets, water (at least 3 gallons per day, per person), ready-to-eat food, and medications on hand.
  • Have a place to go if there is a loss of power. Temperatures can drop quickly and it’s better to travel somewhere warmer, than to wait in your home for the power to return.

2. Icy conditions increase falls.

  • According to the CDC, approximately 1 million Americans are injured annually as a result of falls on ice and snow. [2]
  • Statistics show that falls are a leading cause of injury and death in people aged 65 and older. [3]
  • One in four older adults will fall each year in the United States.
  • In order to stay safe when walking during the winter months, keep these tips in mind:
    • Walk like a penguin. This gait helps to distribute your weight onto the planting foot, which can keep you upright and more balanced on slippery surfaces.
    • Spread pet and human friendly ice melt on sidewalks, driveways, and stairs.
    • Wear assistive devices on shoes to help avoid slipping (like Yaktrax), and use rubber tipped canes.

3. Shoveling snow can be grueling. In addition to being a form of exercise, shoveling show can be peaceful and rewarding work. [4] Sometimes, however, we find that activities that were once easy to do are now quite difficult, and maybe even dangerous. One of the most significant dangers is the strain that this activity puts on the heart, which can increase the risk of a heart attack. The back and shoulders can also be injured while shoveling the deceivingly heavy white flakes. Caregivers work hard to keep their loved ones safe and often forbid dangerous activities. At the same time, older adults crave to maintain their independence, and shoveling snow can be safer when following these suggestions [5]:

  • Salt the driveway and sidewalks before the snow begins to fall.
  • Dress appropriately – layer up: cover the head, face and hands; and wear waterproof boots.
  • Use a smaller size shovel. Smaller shovels may be less efficient, but they allow for smaller scoops, which are easier to lift.
  • Take breaks often.
  • Set a time limit.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Use a snow blower.
  • Partner up and take turns.
  • Know your limits.
  • Use the proper lifting technique; lift with your legs, not your back.
  • Begin shoveling when the snow starts to fall.
  • Shovel often, but for short periods of time.
  • Ask for help.

Keep all of these tips in mind this winter so that you and your loved ones can continue being active and independent.


[1] The Top 6 Cold Weather Risks for Seniors and How to Keep Them Safe

[2] CDC Injury Prevention & Control

[3] Cold Weather Falls are Preventable

[4] The Joys of Shoveling Snow

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Winter Growth’s founder dreamed of creating a community where seniors and adults with disabilities could continue to learn and grow – filling their lives with joy and purpose. For over 40 years, we have fulfilled her vision by providing unique, affordable Assisted Living/Memory Care and Adult Medical Day Care tailored to our clients’ individual abilities, interests, and lives.

Comments (2)

Barbara Bednarzik

Another blog filled with valuable information to help us (seniors) stay upright!! Plus many other suggestions to prepare for winter. Thanks for ideas to help us stay safe!

Great content! Keep up the good work!

Comments are closed.