Winter Woes: Tips to Keep Older Adults Safe in Inclement Weather

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“While colder temperatures shouldn’t put your schedule on hold, venturing outside the home can be difficult, especially for those with health conditions, limited mobility, or vision impairment.”

Across the country, people are experiencing extreme winter conditions, including heavy snow, ice accumulation, freezing temperatures, and dangerous wind chill. It is important for everyone to be mindful of inclement weather, but it is especially important for older adults to take precautions in order to protect their health.

Although we spend more time indoors during winter months, cold weather can still take a toll on our health and well-being. Adults older than 65 are almost twice as likely to be hospitalized due to temperature-related injuries. As one of the most dangerous times of year, understanding how to stay safe when low temperatures and winter storms come along is crucial.

“Winter weather is much more than a mere inconvenience; it can be extremely hazardous,” said Lakelyn Hogan Eichenberger, Ph.D., gerontologist and caregiver advocate at Home Instead. “While colder temperatures shouldn’t put your schedule on hold, venturing outside the home can be difficult, especially for those with health conditions, limited mobility, or vision impairment.”

As we continue to brave the winter weather, Hogan suggests the following tips to keep you and your loved ones safe:

  • Preventing Falls: Each year, about 3 million older adults are treated in emergency departments for a fall related injury, and icy conditions can lead to an increased risk of falling. During inclement weather, stay home when possible. If you need to go to the grocery store or an appointment, consider asking someone to join you and assist as you navigate icy terrain to and from your vehicle. Hire a professional or ask a loved one to clear your driveway, steps and porches of snow and ice. Be sure to spread salt to reduce the risk of slipping for everyone.
  • Going Digital: While it isn’t always possible to avoid going out into winter weather, there are plenty of ways to get what you need while staying home. If you have a doctor’s appointment or are feeling sick, consider a telehealth visit with your physician, or use a meal-delivery service to have groceries delivered right to your front door. If you’re unfamiliar, ask a family member or caregiver to help guide you through these digital processes.
  • Combatting the Cold: Hypothermia and frostbite are both dangerous conditions that can occur after being exposed to extremely cold temperatures. Our bodies do not regulate temperature as efficiently as we age, and pre-existing medical conditions or certain medications also increase one’s risk of exposure. Warning signs of hypothermia include shivering, slurred speech, slowed movement, and confusion or drowsiness. If you or a loved one experience any of these signs, prioritize increasing your body temperature by moving into a warm room and removing any wet clothing, and call 911.
  • Dressing the Part: Check your closet to make sure you have a proper winter wardrobe. A heavy waterproof coat, cozy hat, set of gloves, and plenty of socks are all good items to have. Wear loose layers of clothing to help keep yourself warm. Even if you are staying in the house, dress warmly and have blankets on hand.
  • Being Prepared: Most winter power outages occur when storms bring freezing rain, sleet, and high winds, damaging power lines and equipment. Plan ahead by packing an emergency kit, including a flashlight, first-aid kit and non-perishable food items. During an outage, stay calm, keep warm, and listen for weather service announcements on your phone or radio.

Winter can be a wonderland, but with snow, colder temperatures, and hours of darkness comes risk. It is critical to everyone’s safety – especially older adults – to understand the necessary precautions when inclement or extreme weather conditions strike.

For more tips and resources for older adults, visit


Founded in 1994 in Omaha, Nebraska, the Home Instead® franchise network provides personalized care, support and education to enhance the lives of aging adults and their families. Today, the network is the world’s leading provider of in-home care services for older adults, with more than 1,100 independently owned and operated franchises that provide nearly 90 million hours of care annually throughout the United States and 12 other countries. Local Home Instead offices employ nearly 100,000 CAREGivers℠ worldwide who provide relationship-based care services that enable older adults to live safely and comfortably in their own homes for as long as possible. Home Instead franchise owners partner with clients and their family members to help meet varied individual needs. Services span the care continuum – from providing personal care to specialized Alzheimer’s care and hospice support. Also available are family caregiver education and support resources. Visit Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter. Each Home Instead® franchise office is independently owned and operated. Home Instead, Inc. is a subsidiary of Honor Technology, Inc.

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