Winter Safety Tips for Seniors

Winter can be a dangerous time, especially for seniors. Ice, snow, frigid temperatures, and slippery surfaces are often responsible for a number of accidents and illnesses during the winter months. Writing for care.com, Andrea Lee offers these tips to help keep you and your family safe during the winter months.

  1. Be careful on the ice. Walking on ice is tricky and can lead to a fall. Often these falls cause major injuries such as hip and wrist fractures and head trauma. To avoid falling, wear shoes with good traction and non-skid soles, and stay inside until the roads are clear. Replace a worn cane tip to making walking easier. Take off your shoes as soon as you return indoors to avoid creating slippery conditions inside.
  2. Dress warmly. Cold temperatures can lead to frostbite and hypothermia, a condition where the body temperature dips too low. According to a 2014 report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , older people are more likely than younger people to succumb to cold temperatures. As a result, keep your thermostat on a reasonably warm temperature and dress in layers. If you must venture outdoors, wear warm socks, a heavy coat, a warm hat, gloves and a scarf. In very cold temperatures, cover all exposed skin. Use a scarf to cover your mouth and protect your lungs. One final word of caution: Your body temperature should never dip below 95 degrees. If it does, seek medical assistance immediately.
  3. Fight Wintertime Depression. Because winter can be a difficult and dangerous time to get around, many seniors lose contact with others during cold months. Feelings of loneliness and isolation can occur. To avoid these issues, family members can check in on seniors as often as possible. Even a short, daily phone call can make a big difference. Seniors can also arrange a check-in system with neighbors and friends.

Your Lakewood at Home membership gives you access to your personal care coordinator any time you need assistance. Don’t hesitate to reach out!

If you want to age well you should focus on your friendships

Image: REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

Among older adults, friendships are actually a stronger predictor of health and happiness than relationships with family members, research shows.

In a pair of studies involving nearly 280,000 people, William Chopik, assistant professor of psychology at Michigan State University, also found that friendships become increasingly important to one’s happiness and health across the lifespan.

“Friendships become even more important as we age,” says Chopik. “Keeping a few really good friends around can make a world of difference for our health and well-being. So it’s smart to invest in the friendships that make you happiest.”

For the first study, Chopik analyzed survey information about relationships and self-rated health and happiness from 271,053 participants of all ages from nearly 100 countries. The second study looked at data from a separate survey about relationship support/strain and chronic illness from 7,481 older adults in the United States.

According to the first study, both family and friend relationships were linked to better health and happiness overall, but only friendships became a stronger predictor of health and happiness at advanced ages.

The second study also showed that friendships were very influential—when friends were the source of strain, participants reported more chronic illnesses; when friends were the source of support, participants were happier.

Chopik says that may be because of the optional nature of relationships—that over time, we keep the friends we like and make us feel good and discard the rest. Friends also can provide a source of support for people who don’t have spouses or for those who don’t lean on family in times of need. Friends can also help prevent loneliness in older adults who may experience bereavement and often rediscover their social lives after they retire.

Family relationships are often enjoyable too, Chopik says, but sometimes they involve serious, negative, and monotonous interactions.

“There are now a few studies starting to show just how important friendships can be for older adults. Summaries of these studies show that friendships predict day-to-day happiness more and ultimately how long we’ll live, more so than spousal and family relationships,” he says.

Friendships often take a “back seat” in relationships research, Chopik adds, which is strange, especially considering that they might be more influential for our happiness and health than other relationships.

“Friendships help us stave off loneliness but are often harder to maintain across the lifespan,” he says. “If a friendship has survived the test of time, you know it must be a good one—a person you turn to for help and advice often and a person you wanted in your life.”

Written by
Andy Henion, Postdoctoral Researcher, Michigan State University

This article is published in collaboration with Futurity.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.