In many parts of the country, it’s time to really begin preparing for winter – the cold temps, the snow, the ice. It’s enough to make anyone want to hibernate all winter-long if you live in the northern half of our country. But there are also a lot of beautiful parts of winter, and it’s important to not just isolate during the long, cold months.
This is especially true if you’re a caregiver of an aging parent. It’s a bit scary thinking about elderly parents living in their homes when temperatures dip to single digits (or even negative digits) or snowfalls are accumulating at inches per hour. Knowing your parent still needs to get the pharmacy to pick up medications or the grocery store to get food can cause stress and worry in any caregiver (not to mention the parent). Let’s look at some steps you can take now to help your parents not only survive the winter, but maybe even enjoy it a bit as well.
Do a cold-weather clothing inventory.
Since sizes don’t change too often in older parents, it’s easy to think that winter gear from last year (or the last ten years) will be just fine again. Before your parent needs gloves to go outside and get the mail, check those gloves for new holes or worn spots. Look at boots to make sure the interiors are still lined nicely, and treads are deep and not worn smooth. Do an inventory of hats, scarves, warm socks and make sure they are all now easily accessible to your parent. If you don’t live nearby, this can be a great task for a home care professional to help your parent review and organize.
Make sure winter tools are taken out of storage and easily accessible.
Don’t wait until the first ice storm to check and see if your parent has salt available. While the weather is still decent, get a big bag of salt (with a scoop) and put it right by each door so that salt can be scattered on sidewalks before the first step is even taken. Make sure shovels and ice picks are also out and easily accessible. If your parent needs a snowblower at his home, have a pre-season inspection done on it so when it’s time to blow that first foot of snow off the driveway, all your parent has to do is fire it up. Finally, make sure you have someone on call to help with any of these tasks that perhaps your parent is unable to physically perform. As a caregiver, you may not live close enough or have the time to unbury your parent from a snowstorm. Have a home care professional signed up to help or ask friends and neighbors to be on call.
Have the car winter-care emergency kit prepped.
If your parent is still driving or has someone drive her around in her car, make sure the winter emergency kit is set with all of the needed essentials and that everything is in working order. You can find a great list here: https://www.almanac.com/content/winter-car-emergency-kit. Finally, make sure that kit is easy to get to. Don’t bury it under the spare tire in the trunk. And always remember, if driving is not safe for your senior parent, enlist someone like a home care professional or a family member to run errands for your parent.
Cold and snowy winters are a fact of life in many parts of the country. Even southern states see temperature changes that require updated clothing and supplies to match what’s going on outside. While caution must be used when severe weather events are happening, it’s healthy and positive to get out and enjoy some of the limited sunshine and fresh air even in the coldest months. As a loving caregiver, you just need to help make sure your parent is ready to do that.