Secure Your Home for a Winter Storm

Staying Put at Home Tips for Home SafetyStaying put at home isn’t always about aging in place. When inclement winter weather turns from inconvenient to dangerous, it can become a quite literal need. Though your home can be a safe haven from the storm, key to wellbeing is having the essentials on hand. Getting safely through a blizzard, ice storm or cold snap is doable when you consider ahead of time what you might need for the following scenarios:

Heat Disruption

Millions of people rely on their furnaces and radiators to stay warm throughout winter. All it takes, though, is one faulty appliance part or broken gas line for your heat to be out as long as it takes the HVAC technician or gas company to fix it. To prepare for a heat disruption, stock up on thick blankets—enough to keep warm everyone in your house. Have old towels or torn sheets readily available as well to wedge under doors and shut out frigid drafts and cover windows with extra blankets to retain warm air. If you have a wood-burning fireplace, an ample stockpile of logs could be of huge benefit if your heat is out for more than a few hours.

Snowfall

A sizeable blizzard can leave behind six feet of snow in a single day, and such a storm can make driving or even walking too hazardous to attempt. So don’t. Especially when you might be at risk for a fall or hypothermia, stay inside and wait for the weather to pass. However, when you must stay in your house, food might quickly run out. You can rest easy, though, when you stock up on nonperishable items. Canned and boxed foods often stay good for several months, so you can purchase them before winter rolls in. If you take medication, keep an extra bottle in the house should your prescription run out. And don’t forget the paper towels, tissues and toilet paper!

Power Outage

Nonperishable food can also come in handy when the power goes out. Because refrigerated items can go bad in just a few hours—even when kept in a closed fridge—it’s best to stick with canned or boxed options if you lose power for more than a half-day. Wintertime weather combined with no electricity typically means meager natural light as well, but flashlights can help you easily and safely navigate your home. Candles can also light your way, but to prevent a fire, make sure they are supervised at all times. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration also suggests a battery-powered radio to stay in touch with the outside world until your electricity returns.

Have a useful winter storm tip? Help our Staying Put at Home readers stay safe this season and share your suggestions in our comments section.

Where Do You Store Your Medications?

Staying Put at Home Tips for Senior HealthOlder age doesn’t necessarily mean poor health. Yet some medical conditions, including heart disease, arthritis and type 2 diabetes, tend to disproportionately affect the senior population. If you too have been diagnosed with narrowed arteries, inflamed joints or poor insulin production, odds are you are taking one or more medications to control it. While those prescriptions can prove integral to maintaining a high quality of life, improper medication storage could lead to life-threatening complications.

Steer Clear of Heat

Imagine the following scenario: you forget a bag of groceries in your car for several hours as outside temperatures hit upwards of 90 degrees. Once you realize your mistake, would you still eat that carton of eggs or package of hot dogs? Probably not. Yet when you keep your prescriptions in the bathroom or anywhere else prone to high heat, you risk compromising the integrity of those drugs. Instead, store your prescriptions in a location where the temperature consistently hovers around 72 degrees unless directions specify refrigeration.

Prevent Moisture Damage

Another reason why the bathroom is bad for medications: it’s probably the most humid room in the house. Consider how many times in a week you wipe down the mirror because your bath has fogged it up. The National Institutes of Health notes that humidity can rapidly degrade medications, making them ineffective or even dangerous to use. If you use a humidifier in your bedroom, it might also make a poor locale for medication storage. To keep your prescriptions cool and dry, move them to a linen closet or pantry that isn’t vulnerable to moisture damage.

Avoid Prescription Mix-Ups

Do you live with a spouse or elderly parent who also takes medications? If so, keep your prescriptions apart from each other. While storing medications in the same place might be convenient, it could set the stage for a drug mix-up that sends you or someone else to the emergency room. Even if you know the medications that belong to you, poor vision or cognitive decline could make it easy for a loved one to ingest the wrong drug. If only a single closet is suitable for medication storage, separate your prescriptions in secure boxes.

Proper medication management is essential to healthy older age. What tricks have helped you stay on top of your medication storage needs? Share your suggestions in the Staying Put at Home comments section.

Your Senior Gift Giving Guide

Staying Put at Home Tips for Senior HealthThe holiday season is called the most wonderful time of the year. When trying to find gifts for loved ones, though, the holidays can be more stressful than wonderful for many people. That’s why Staying Put at Home has put together your one-stop shopping guide for all the seniors in your life. But what sets our suggestions apart from all those other gift lists? Each item bolsters health, safety and comfort, all key components for aging in place. And if you’re a boomer, why not treat yourself to an item or two as you shop for your own friends and family?

Pedometer

Physical activity is integral to elder health. For some seniors, though, it can be challenging to attempt rigorous activities like running or biking. Yet even a brisk walk can yield numerous benefits, including improved cardiovascular function, lowered risk of obesity and enhanced mental wellbeing. So to support the workout efforts of your favorite senior, buy him a pedometer. These tracking devices can add up each and every step, and some even come with features to monitor heart rate and blood oxygen levels.

Resistance Bands

Any exercise can foster health, but strength training in particular is vital for senior wellness. This activity combats two common elder ailments: reduced muscle mass and diminished bone density. The thought of going to a gym can prove daunting for some people, though, and they may even avoid strength training if they think lifting weights is their only option. With resistance bands—which seniors can do while sitting down!—they can still protect their muscles and bones from age-related decline.

Tai Chi Classes

Fall injuries are a pressing health concern for many seniors, which is why geriatric health experts so often recommend tai chi, a centuries-old practice that focuses on breath and balance. However, many elder Americans are unfamiliar with tai chi and may be reluctant to try it on their own. Prepaid tai chi classes can make the perfect gift, giving your senior the chance to explore this type of exercise in a safe and supportive environment.

Fruit of the Month

Eating healthily can be challenging at any age. Especially for older individuals, who might not regularly grocery shop, keeping fruits and vegetables in the house may be difficult. To ensure that your senior can enjoy fresh produce, get him a fruit or veggie of the month subscription. Many companies even offer mixed produce that can be delivered right to your loved one’s front door. If your friend or family member needs cooking inspiration, many of these businesses provide recipe suggestions, too.

Tea Gift Set

Tea comes in a myriad of flavors ranging from sweet to spicy and mild to bold, making it a tasty beverage option for many individuals. Did you know, though, that tea can provide cognitive and cardiovascular benefits as well? Green tea has long been heralded as a nutritious drink because of its high antioxidant count. So this holiday season, give your elder friend or family member a tea gift set to help him warm up during the winter months and enjoy a healthy new year.

Reacher

Many seniors contend with agility and mobility issues, and a moment of unsteadiness while reaching for a newspaper or blanket can escalate into a serious fall accident. While healthy lifestyle habits such as eating right and exercising regularly are some of the best fall prevention tactics, so too can assistive devices help the senior in your life stay safe. A reacher can grab out-of-range items and prevent a loved one from straining to get them. Because they are lightweight, reachers are easy to use and carry.

Bed Cane

Moving from a sitting to standing position can be a difficult and even dangerous task for older individuals suffering from arthritis or other physical ailments. If your elder friend or family member struggles with a health condition, a bed cane could prove an invaluable holiday gift. Unlike conventional canes, bed canes come with extra wide handles so that users can lean on them for support and stability while moving from a stationary position. Slip a cane under the mattress and it is ready for use.

Playing Card Holder

Arthritis pain can affect more than gross motor skills. It can also impact small joint function. If the senior in your life is a fan of bridge, gin rummy or another card game, give him the gift of comfort with a playing card holder. This device can eliminate the strain of handling multiple cards and make card playing an enjoyable pastime once more. Some playing card holders even have slots for pencils and dice so that your senior can keep all of his game pieces in the same place.

Hands Free Book Light

Reading is another pastime that many seniors love. With age can come deteriorated vision, though, that complicates efforts to enjoy a beloved novel or new best seller. Well-lit pages become all the more important, making a hands free book light the ideal gift for elder bibliophiles. Many devices lay comfortably around the neck, making it easy for your friend or family member to read with the best lighting possible. Plus, these versatile items can come in handy if your loved one knits as well.

Easy Key Turner

Does the senior in your life claim that he doesn’t need any gifts? Then fill his stocking with an easy key turner instead. This device can instantly transform even the most frustratingly small key into an easily maneuverable item. Key turners enlarge key heads, giving seniors more to grab onto when they hold and turn a key. Though small in size, an easy key turner can make a huge impact on the life of someone with reduced dexterity.

Have more senior gift ideas? Share your suggestions with our readers in our comments section.

Wintertime Safety Suggestions

Staying Put at Home Tips for Home SafetyThe United States has witnessed its first major snowstorm of the season. Unfortunately, we’re still a few weeks away from the official start of winter. Mother Nature may be unpredictable, but you don’t have to forecast the weather to prepare for it. Seniors in particular should have a plan in place to stay safe when the temperatures drop, as they are often more vulnerable to cold weather illnesses and injuries. So before another arctic blast or polar vortex hits your home, consider your wintertime safety needs.

Fall Hazards

For seniors, fall prevention is a year-round priority. Once winter arrives, though, it becomes all the more important to implement safeguards that will lessen your fall risk. Even if you live in a locale that never sees snow, overnight temperatures can still drop low enough to create a slick porch or sidewalk in the morning. To prevent falls, never leave the house without slip-proof footwear. You might also consider a cane or walker for better balance over icy surfaces. For added protection, coat your walkways with salt, sand or cat litter, and if you do get sleet or snow, ask a friend or family member to shovel it for you.

Hypothermia Risks

Winter weather can make it difficult to stay warm outside, so no matter the duration of your treks outdoors, wear appropriate attire. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that layers retain body heat better than just a thick coat, so dig out that thermal shirt, hat and scarf before leaving the house. When it comes to hypothermia, how you feel might not reflect how cold you actually are so take regular breaks from the cold as well. Also, keep in mind that if sweat or snow dampens your clothes, it can chill your body and drop your temperature. To prevent hypothermia, keep clothing dry at all times.

Fire Dangers

Heating costs can quickly rise during the winter, which may prompt some people to use alternate heat sources such as fireplaces, space heaters or even candles. However, each option can heighten the risk of fire. For this reason, be cautious with these appliances and devices. Never leave a fireplace, space heater or candle lit or on when you sleep or use a different room. Keep easily flammable items such as newspaper and holiday garland far from heat sources as well. Sources that emit carbon monoxide can trigger potentially fatal consequences, too, so invest in a CO detector and make sure that ample air flow runs throughout your house.

Staying Put at Home welcomes your suggestions for a safe winter season. Share your tips with our other readers in the comments section.