Bracing For the Cold: Tips to Keep Older Adults Safe this Season

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Home Instead® shares winter health and safety precautions for older adults

From watching the first snowfall through the window to curling up with a cozy blanket by the fire and sipping hot chocolate, there’s a lot to love about winter and the magic it brings to those of all ages. But, along with joy, winter brings challenges. For those bracing for the cold, especially older adults, harsh and inclement weather conditions can be more than an inconvenience, they can be dangerous.

Slippery sidewalks and icy conditions can cause a wide range of injuries, which typically affect adults 65 and older more seriously than other age groups. In addition to an increased risk of falls, older adults are more vulnerable to illnesses such as the flu or pneumonia. As noted by the National Council on Aging, this is because as we age, our immune system weakens and can’t fight off infections as well.

“During the winter months, extreme weather can roll in at any time, often when we least expect it,” said Lakelyn Hogan Eichenberger, Ph.D., gerontologist and caregiver advocate at Home Instead, Inc. “Having a proactive plan and back-up support from a caregiver or family member can be key to ensuring seniors are protected and maintain their health and well-being this season.”

It’s important that older adults living in colder weather climates take precautions to stay safe. Hogan Eichenberger recommends the following tips:

  • Dress for the cold. One of the best ways to protect yourself from harsh winter conditions is to dress in warm and loose layers both indoors and outdoors. If you must go out on a chilly day, make sure to bundle up with a heavy waterproof jacket, hat, scarf, and gloves. If clothing becomes wet from being outside in the snow, change out of damp clothes as soon as possible to reserve body heat and keep warm. And to help stay warm on cold winter days, be sure to stock up on nutritious, hot foods, such as soup.
  • Drive safely. Winter roads can be dangerous, and a winter storm can make driving and navigating difficult. Keep in mind that it gets darker in the winter, so plan to run errands earlier in the day to avoid night driving. If you do plan to drive, check that your vehicle is ready to handle the extreme weather. Examine tires, brakes, fluids, wipers, headlights, and taillights to ensure they are in good condition. It’s also important to keep essentials such as snacks, blankets, flashlights, and jumper cables in your car at all times in case of emergency. Follow basic road safety tips such as maintaining a longer following distance, choosing similar routes and avoiding distracted driving.
  • Winterize the home. It’s common in cold weather for homes to lose heat through the windows and doors. Ahead of the season, consider weather stripping or caulking to keep cool air out. Power outages are also likely to occur during freezing rain, sleet, and high winds. Plan ahead by preparing emergency supplies, such as a flashlight and non-perishable food items. In the case of a long-period outage, ask to stay with a loved one or friend.
  • Prevent weather-related injuries: It’s easy to slip and fall in the winter, especially in icy and snowy conditions. If you’re planning to leave the house, ask a caregiver or family member to accompany you on your outing and they can help support you when you encounter icy pathways. They can also assist by shoveling snow, salting icy walkways, and handling other outdoor winter maintenance that could be a burden to older adults. To avoid going outside, consider online deliveries for groceries and medications.
  • Have an emergency plan in place: Having an emergency plan in place and being prepared is crucial to ensuring help is available when needed, especially during inclement weather. In the event of a blizzard or severe snowstorm, make note of family members or caregivers who may be available to get groceries, medicines, or other necessities. It’s also important to make a list of all emergency phone numbers, so that friends and neighbors know who to call for help. Be prepared with an evacuation plan and stay informed via weather alerts and regional updates.

Winter can be dangerous, but it doesn’t have to stop you from enjoying the season. Implementing these steps can add to older adult’s quality of life and help everyone safely enjoy the winter months ahead.

For more tips and resources for older adults, visit


Home Instead, Inc. and its parent company, Honor, are expanding the world’s capacity to care. With the world’s largest home care network and the most advanced care platform, Honor and Home Instead are revolutionizing care for older adults, their families, and Care Professionals. Home Instead, Inc. is the premier home care franchisor through its network of independently owned and operated Home Instead franchise businesses. Combined, the network has more than 100,000 Care Professionals across 13 countries, meeting the growing needs of millions of older adults and their families worldwide. For more information, visit and

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Dan Wieberg