Cold weather and winter months can be a challenge for caretakers of home bound loved ones. The cold weather can be a challenge for those that require home health care. While health and comfort are always the goal, during the winter there can be additional safety concerns that make caretaking even more challenging.
Here are some tips to keeping your home bound loved one, safe, healthy, and happy this winter:
TIP 1: FOCUS ON HYDRATION
When it comes to health, hydration should always be a focus, especially for those that are immunocompromised or bedridden. Heating systems and dry winter air can easily lead to hydration in elderly patients. Dehydration can cause medical issues but can also cause general discomfort like chapped lips and skin. Provide your loved one with plenty of beverage options including water and electrolyte drinks, if needed. Hot beverages like tea or coffee may also be enjoyable options and can help to keep patients warm as well.
TIP 2: DRESS IN LAYERS TO KEEP WARM
It is easy for elderly patients to catch a chill during cold weather months. An easy way to ensure the comfort of your home-bound loved one is to make sure they can dress in loose-fitting layers. Warm footwear is also a great option, just make sure that there is proper support as well as grip on any plush footwear. For any outings or medical appointments, be sure that proper winter attire is available for your loved one. Coat, hat, mittens, scarves and non-skid boots or shoes are recommended.
TIP 3: PREPARE BEDROOMS AND LIVING SPACES WITH EXTRA BLANKETS FOR COMFORT
Homes can get drafty when the weather is cold. To keep your loved one as well as yourself comfortable, be sure to keep extra blankets or throws available throughout your home.
TIP 4: PREPARE FOR INCLEMENT WEATHER AND POWER OUTAGES
Inclement winter weather can be unpredictable and can cause you to be locked in at home and/or without power for undetermined amounts of time. In order to be prepared for the unexpected be sure to have emergency supplies stocked up. Bottled waters, blankets, nonperishable foods, over the counter medicines and prescription medications should all be fully stocked. Flashlights, backup generators, firewood and matches are also recommended. It is best to organize your emergency supplies and document emergency plans to ensure that you, your loved one and your providers all know what should happen in the event of an emergency.
TIP 5: BE SURE TO HAVE AN EMERGENCY ACTION PLAN WITH ALL MEDICAL AND HOME HEALTH PROVIDERS
Due to the increase in seasonal illnesses and viruses during the wintertime, it is best to do some forward thinking with your loved one’s medical providers. Preventative measures and care are ideal, but it is a good idea to have a list of symptoms and/or situations to keep an eye out for that would warrant immediate medical attention. Having your home health and other medical providers contact information documented and readily available is a good idea as well.
It is a significant responsibility to care for a home bound loved one, especially during the winter months. Any planning and preparing that you can do in advance, including these 5 tips, will make your duties as a caretaker much more manageable.