Senior Care Blog Wayland and Weston

Handling Winter Storms While Caring for a Senior Loved One

By Denise Roskamp

Almost every part of the United States can be struck by a winter storm. While some may just bring a little snow or ice, there are severe storms that can last for several days and cause numerous problems like traffic accidents, power outages and a slowdown of community services. If you are a family caregiver with an elderly parent that lives in an area that may get winter storms, you can take steps to prepare so that you both will get through the bad weather safe, warm and healthy.

Knowing Weather Alert Information

You may watch the weather regularly but perhaps you aren’t quite sure about the different terminology they use to talk about winter storms. Once you know what to expect, you can prepare accordingly. Winter storms can cause power outages, poor travelling conditions, a delay in community services, severe cold and even cause structures to collapse under ice and snow. A winter storm can be deadly for people when preparations are not made.

A winter weather advisory is when conditions are expected to worsen but not reach life-threatening levels. It could mean a snowstorm passing through your area or ice on the roads. A winter storm watch signals that a storm is heading your way but the severity and time of arrival is still unknown. A winter storm warning means that a severe storm is arriving soon, or it is already there.

Winter Storms and Elderly Relatives

If your elderly relative lives alone, you definitely need to help them prepare for the inevitable winter storms. Seniors can struggle when it comes to home maintenance and there are lots of things that need done if a home is going to be suitable for a storm. Check the weather stripping around doors and windows and make sure the smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are working. Double check the furnace and run the heating system to ensure all is well. Consider space heaters for your aging parent, but make sure they are modern with all the latest safety features.

Seniors will need an emergency kit to ride out a power outage. Include batteries, flashlights, portable cell phone battery recharger, non-perishable food, bottled water and any extra medication to last for at least three days. They should also have a list of numbers to call if they need help or if there is an emergency. Elderly adults should also have a network of people that check in on them besides you, such as a home care agency, clergy member, other family members, neighbors and friends. Under no circumstances should your elderly parent go outside in a winter storm, even to shovel the snow.

Winter storms can be serious and cause a lot of problems for cities and towns. Seniors are particularly vulnerable when it comes to staying warm and safe. You can help your loved one by preparing in advance and checking in on them regularly before, during and after the storm.