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Senior Living: Preparing for Winter Safety

Anneliese Peterson | Oct 8, 2015

Sure, it’s a beautiful time of year here in the metro area, but seasons change quickly! With that, we know what’s next. Winter can be difficult for seniors, and we want to make sure they and their loved ones are aware of the potential risks winter often poses. Aside from preparing for another winter, there are ways Walker Methodist can help you and your family.

Senior Home Safety

Think of it as spring-cleaning, but in reverse: winterize your home. Take stock of your home and plan for hazards and prepare for the months to come.

  • Check doors and windows for cracked or worn seals, and insulate drafty windows with indoor window kits.
  • Consider the high traffic areas like the sidewalk, steps into the garage, and path to mailbox.
  • Handrails will offer support for slippery, snowy, and unpredictable conditions.
  • Replace worn rubber tips on canes and walkers replaced for best tread.
  • Remove rugs that clutter entryways or doors; they can be a tripping hazard.
  • Check and replace batteries in smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and cordless phones.
  • Be prepared for weather-related emergencies including power outages. Stock non-perishable food and extra water. Keep an up-to-date emergency kit that includes flashlights, extra batteries, first aid kits, medications, and a list of emergency numbers somewhere you can access quick in the event of an emergency.
  • Safety is more important than energy costs, so set your thermostat no lower than 65° to prevent hypothermia throughout the season.

Senior Living Winter Health Concerns


According to the Center for Disease Control, one-third of adults aged 65+ fall each year. This risk increases in the winter due to the elements. Aside from falls, there are other risks that accompany the season. Seniors are more susceptible to hypothermia because the body’s ability to regulate temperature and sense cold may lessen with age. Some health disorders may also affect body temperature regulation including:

  • Hypothyroidism
  • Stroke
  • Severe arthritis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Nerve damage in extremities due to diabetes or injury

When outdoors, dress in loose, warm layers and always include a hat, as the head is the biggest source of heat loss if exposed. Ensure footwear has non-skid soles with traction support to avoid slipping. If you must be outdoors, consider a warm-up before beginning any activity. Cold weather taxes the cardiovascular system. Walk inside around the house before dressing for outside to promote blood flow and warm your muscles. And, when outdoors shoveling, or even walking, take breaks.

How Walker Methodist Can Help

I just covered a lot of concerns for older adults living independently during the difficult winter months. Another important consideration I didn’t mention is how winter affects seniors emotionally and psychologically. The winter blues are real. The days are longer, darker, and colder – especially in the Midwest; and the months even more so. It can be hard to cope, and loneliness may be more prevalent during this season than any other. Walker Methodist can help combat that in our vibrant communities, and we can help relive the winter stress by taking care of those winter chores.

We have 10 senior living communities in the Twin Cities metro area, with customized community settings for all older adults. We can ease the worry of another long winter with a transition to our independent or assisted living communities. Our apartment homes are maintenance-free, and are supported by healthcare and personal services should individuals ever need them. Easing year-round burdens and increasing time for socializing, attending events, and personal safety, Walker Methodist is independent and carefree living for people looking to live each day to the fullest. We ease senior living transitions for families and are here for you and your family when you are ready … perhaps before the first snowfall.

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