It’s a country that’s not typically known for its cold climate, but in some parts of Australia, the chill has set in. With the winter solstice just past, some meteorologists are predicting we’re in for the coldest winter in 40 years. Here are some things to watch out for to ensure your ageing parent or loved one stays safe when it’s frosty outside.
Australia’s ski season opened early this year, with blankets of snow arriving as early as late May to some areas of the country. While it’s good news for some, the colder months also bring risks for those who are vulnerable, particularly the elderly.
Even if your parents are living independently, it can be difficult to admit when support is needed. But when extreme weather events are occuring, engaging a little support from someone in your local community can be a way to help your loved one avoid unnecessary risks.
Whether it’s support to do the grocery shopping when it’s looking grim outside, or someone to provide transport for a doctor’s visit, there are lots of small ways you can help keep them safe when its cold out.
Stay healthy and happy
This flu season has been one of the worst on record, so it’s important to ensure your elderly loved one has had the jab. But it’s not just colds and flu that presents dangers over winter. While probably a little known fact, as reported in The Australian, cold temperatures are the cause of many more fatalities than heat – even in Australia. Mostly, this can be attributed to preexisting conditions, mainly cardiovascular and respiratory disease, as it’s these types of conditions that are exacerbated in the cold when blood pressure spikes.
These risks are particularly acute for elderly Australians, and further increased by houses that are not equipped for the cold. Help your loved one to take care of themselves by encouraging them to dress for the weather, make sure they don’t underestimate the cold and eat regularly – preferably one hot meal a day.
If you are concerned about your loved one’s health, you can also hire one of the hundreds of registered nurses who provide services directly to clients via the Mable platform to pop in and check on them.
Staying cozy in the home
Many houses in Australia are built to accommodate extremes in heat rather than cold. But there are things you can do to help your parents keep their place cozy.
Encourage them to use heating in their home if possible, block draughts and keep doors to unused rooms closed. Curtains can also help to keep the chill at bay, but when the sun’s out, open them up to get a dose of vitamin D.
Help your loved one to maintain their heating systems by cleaning heating filters and getting gas heaters serviced regularly. And although many of us love to snuggle up with an electric blanket, if you can, set them to a timer so they are not used excessively.
According to The Telegraph, experts say it’s better to layer your clothing, rather than wearing one bulky item and investing in an old-fashioned water bottle can go a long way to making sure someone is feeling warm snuggled up in front of the TV.
Independent support workers offering domestic assistance on Mable don’t just provide housework. You can also engage someone like Kylie, who helps out one family by preparing healthy meals for the week in advance, ready to defrost each night for dinner. Or, engage an experienced aged care worker who can visit to look out for any dangers in the home.
Don’t let the cold keep you in
For older people, winter can bring with it the risk of increased isolation. Although it can be tempting to hibernate, where possible, support your loved ones to remain active and connected to their community during winter. There are many small steps they can take to stay active, even within the home. But where possible, make the most of these months by organising some excursions that are suited for the colder weather. If you’re not able to be there yourself, you can engage an independent worker to take your parent to the cinema, art gallery or simply somewhere cozy for a meal. Or, if they’re not able to leave the house, engaging someone directly from their area via Mable who can pop in, have a cup of tea and check on their wellbeing can do a lot for your peace of mind, and their mental health.
Mable provides you with access to the largest community of independent support workers in Australia. It’s flexible and free to sign up. Or you can start your search now to see who’s providing support in your area.