Keeping Seniors Safe in Bad Weather

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Dr. James D. Huysman

Senior Safety /

Old man snow

Just as seniors and frail elders need to be checked in on and monitored during extremely hot weather, the same is true for the icy temperatures that are plaguing a lot of the northeastern and southern part of the country.

Well-prepared families will have a developed a bad weather plan that can be implemented quickly.  Such a plan might include seeing to it that the neighbor or loved one has access to a flashlight, cell phone, blankets, food, and water to keep safe.  Unforeseen circumstances like a power outage or inability to get to the elder’s location should always be considered.

If you have an elderly neighbor or relative they need to be checked on every day to make sure that they are keeping warm with more than just a blanket and have food and water.  On a fixed income, many will not have extra food on hand and may be in poor condition as a result. 

If you are able, you might offer to house an elderly friend or loved one for the duration of a particularly bad storm.  If you are checking on someone from a long distance, you might call the local police or local Area on Aging or other senior services agency to have them check on your loved one.  Some localities make provision in schools or hospitals for basic needs and shelter in dangerous weather.

Many older adults will not turn on the heat because they can’t afford it; they try to tough it out.  Tragically many times they fail. 

Space heaters are helpful but can pose their own risks if not used properly.  Turning on the oven or stovetop burners can be dangerous, especially if they are fueled by gas.  Candles will give off some warmth but should never be used as a primary source of heat, due to being a fire hazards.

Failing or not being able to prepare for long term bad weather can have dire consequences.  Don’t assume that frail elders and seniors and older adults are OK or are being looked after.  Find out!  Your consideration will mean the world to them, even if they don’t know how to express it.

For more information on preparedness and local shelter locations, please contact or call your local Red Cross office.

About The Author
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James D “Dr. Jamie” Huysman, PsyD, LCSW is well-known for his work fiercely advocating on behalf of family and professional caregivers. From running a national caregiver support foundation, contributing to the AARP Foundation/NASW’s collective “New Guidelines for Caregivers of Older Adults” and co-authoring “Take Your Oxygen First”, to his expert videos on Caregiver Connections for UHC TV, he is a champion of behavioral health and a patient-centered medical culture that is prepared to meet the needs of those they serve.  A popular speaker, he works as VP of Provider Relations and Government Affairs for WellMed Medical Management.

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