New England is certainly no stranger to blizzards, ice storms, or just your every day snow and sleet. As scenic as those gifts from nature may seem to others, to a lot of folks it brings real problems—and dealing with those problems does not get any easier as we age.
If you’re not traveling south to avoid the cold temperatures and all of the winter systems that come along with them, there is only one way to be this winter-prepared: taking some time now to plan for the next few months.
What Should I Plan For?
- Car Problems - As winter nears, your vehicle is going to have its mechanical integrity put through the paces. Cold temperatures do things to automobiles that may prevent them from transporting you safely, or at all. It’s important that you take your car to an auto mechanic that you trust to have a few things inspected. Your battery needs evaluated. Even parts stores can test and replace them. Make sure it’s strong enough to crank when the temperatures drop. Also, antifreeze levels must be sufficient for the winter or you may run into bigger problems that leave you stranded on an icy road. Have your tires checked too; good tread is imperative this time of year. Have your AAA membership up-to-date just in case.
- Hypothermia - Your vehicle isn’t the only thing that doesn’t like cold weather. I know hypothermia sounds drastic, but over half of the hypothermia related deaths in the US are people over the age of 65. The body produces less heat as it ages. Know the warning signs of hypothermia: Shivering. Cold skin that appears pale or ashy. Feeling tired or confused. Weakness. Problems walking. Slowed heart rate. Dress warm with lots of layers. Call 991 for immediate medical attention of you or a loved one is experiencing these symptoms.
- Falls - Aging related issues affect plenty of us in stable conditions. We can’t afford to let our guard down in snow and ice. If you’re using a cane make sure your tip is new, or better yet replace it with one that has a pick-like point for the winter. They can be purchased at stores that sell durable medical equipment. Wear shoes that have good traction and remove them before you enter your house to keep your floors dry and safe. Make sure your driveway and sidewalks are cleared properly. Snow removal is a young man’s game. If you’re unable to hire anyone and attempt to do it on your own, be smart. Wet snow is heavy, make sure to take a break and keep an eye on your heart rate.
- Mental Health Decline - Seasonal affective disorder (or SAD) is prevalent amongst Americans of all ages, but it especially easy to experience if you’re stuck in your home all day with outside contact. If you’re a caretaker set up a system of family and friends to visit regularly. Even daily phone calls can make a huge impact on a loved one’s mental health.
- Power Outages - Ice storms don’t do the power lines any favors. Being without power for long periods of time can cause damage in a myriad of ways. Purchase a generator if you have the means. It doesn’t have to be huge. You just really just need to operate the essential appliances in your home. If you don’t have a generator you need to be prepared. Have flashlights and radios with fresh batteries, plenty of blankets and non-perishable food. If you’re heating your home with a fireplace or gas powered heater be aware of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Above all, don’t be afraid to ask for help from friends, family or members of your neighborhood. Winter storms are tough on us all and times like these are when community is most important. Plan ahead this winter to ensure health and safety!
If you’re thinking this may be a good time to get some assistance in your life, schedule a tour with us!