Rain, sleet, snow, and brrrr…it’s cold! Welcome to winter. How are you helping older adults not only survive but thrive in this season?
With the winter weather and seasonal conditions come a host of health risks and concerns for seniors: from hypothermia, dehydration, influenza, and frostbite, to falls, vehicle accidents, and storm-related disaster. It’s also a time of year that increases the blues or depression for some folks. Whether you dive deep on one or more of these specific concerns, or do a general overview with tips, there’s plenty of opportunity for content this month related to the topic of winter weather and senior care.
Content Tips for Any Senior Care Company
- Consider contacting your local newspaper and broadcast stations to make sure they’re aware of this story and your expertise on the topic. This can be a great way to get your senior care organization in front of individuals who didn’t yet know about your services — and it helps establish you as an expert in senior care topics with the media outlet (so they continue to outreach to you in future stories they do). Here’s an example from Boston Magazine that includes a local nonprofit, the City of Boston’s geriatric division, the state office of elder affairs, the national Red Cross, and others with senior care expertise.
- With increased health and safety risks in winter, this can be a great time of year to discuss personal emergency response systems with older adults — particularly if they are living alone and/or are isolated. In a similar vein, you might cover in your content this month: first aid kits, carbon monoxide poisoning and in-home fire risks from space heaters, and how to prepare for and protect older adults from natural disasters and serious storms.
- Senior driving is a concern at any time of year, but particularly during the winter months when the roads are slick and visibility is decreased. The poor weather and increased risks could be a great way for family caregivers and your organization to bring up this difficult conversation with older drivers and help them make adjustments as needed.
- Consider making a “winter safety shopping list for seniors” with helpful items to keep them safe and well-cared for this season, such as this one created by the TODAY show.
- Content Tips for Senior Living Communities
- You can demonstrate your senior living community’s knowledge of senior care needs by writing a general or list-type article about winter safety risks for seniors, and/or you can highlight some specific stories of how your community has helped residents this time of year with the challenges of the winter weather and storm conditions. While telling true stories of real events, be sure to keep the seniors anonymous, unless you’ve acquired written permission from them (and/or their POA) to include their real name and photo.
- Has your community’s menu changed with the winter season? How so? You could highlight one or two great winter dishes you’re making for residents on your social media profiles (include a quote or two from your top chefs), and/or include a soup or stew recipe in your community’s newsletter. On a related note: Dehydration is a common problem for older adults and a hot cup of tea could both help with that issue and warm them up in the cold months — perhaps have a tea tasting party at the community or share the health benefits of drinking organic teas.
- How has your senior living community prepared for the winter weather? How prepared is your senior living community for a weather-related emergency or evacuation? Consider an article or two on this subject to demonstrate how well you’re caring for your residents in their home.
- If you’re in a snowy region: Is there a safe way to help the residents of your community to enjoy the snow? For instance, could you collaborate with a local youth organization to build snowmen outside the windows of the community? Is there a large window in your community with a lovely view of the snow where you could host resident meetings and live music, or otherwise encourage residents to visit and enjoy the wintery scene from the warm indoors? Such gatherings could make for great photos for your social media profiles as well.
- Content Tips for Home Care Agencies
- You can demonstrate your agency’s knowledge of senior care needs by writing an overview about winter health risks for seniors, like Comfort Keepers did on their blog in November 2015, or about how to help seniors winterize their home, like Neighborly Home Care did on their site. Or you can highlight some specific stories of how your agency and its caregivers have helped clients this time of year with the challenges of the winter weather and storm conditions. While telling true stories of real events, be sure to keep the seniors anonymous, unless you’ve acquired written permission from them (and/or their POA) to include their real name and photo.
- Consider collaborating with a local volunteer organization or youth group to help the seniors in your community clear their driveways of snow, stock up on water and nutritious food, and/or otherwise winterize their homes and be prepared for staying safe and well cared for indoors. This can include free additional support for your existing clients but could also be a great way to meet new seniors in the community who need help and to generate some positive PR while boosting staff morale as well.
Additional Resources to Support this Spark
- HealthinAging.org — Winter Safety Tips for Older Adults
- National Institute on Aging — Stay Safe in Cold Weather!
- Your local area agency on aging could be a great source of tips on this subject — consider reaching out to them and interviewing one of their experts.
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