My husband and I have recently become caregivers for an elderly aunt who lives nearby. This role has been filled by her daughter for many years, but she got married and moved away so we took over.
With winter’s arrival here in central Ohio, we are struggling to figure out how to keep her safe. She lives alone and still drives her own car.
What should we be doing to winterize her house and car?
Winter Safety Preparedness for Columbus Area Seniors
Being a family caregiver during frosty central Ohio winters can be especially challenging. From power outages to slip and fall accidents on black ice, being prepared is key.
Here are our top ten suggestions:
- Emergency Kit: Ice and snow storms can keep Ohioans stuck indoors for several days in a row. Make sure your aunt has at least a 3-day food and water supply, a battery operated weather radio, one week’s supply of medications, blankets and warm clothing she can use in the event of a power outage.
- Cell Phone or Emergency Call System: Another way to make sure your aunt stays safe is to provide her with a way to be able to quickly call you or 911 for help. Both a cell phone or an emergency call system can make that easier.
- Winter Gear: Also make sure your aunt has good winter weather outdoor gear. Heavy coats, hats and mittens are a must. Boots with non-skid treads are another necessity.
- Furnace Inspection: Carbon monoxide is a deadly risk during winter months. Check with your aunt to see if her furnace has been inspected this season and to make arrangements for that to happen if she hasn’t.
- Sidewalks and Drive: If you aren’t able to keep your aunt’s sidewalks and driveways clear of ice and snow, help her interview and hire a landscaping service to do so. The Central Ohio Agency on Aging may be a good resource for helping you locate a contractor you can trust.
- Transportation Alternatives: Encourage your aunt to use alternate forms of transportation on snowy or icy days. From COTA to Uber, there are a variety of options to meet her needs.
- Vehicle Safety: Your aunt’s car might also need to undergo a check-up. It should be checked out for tire condition, antifreeze, wiper fluid and wiper blades, heater/defroster, and battery life.
- Vehicle Emergency Kit: Much like the emergency kit you put together for your aunt’s home is one you will need to create to keep in her vehicle. Food, water, blankets, a cell phone and car charger, as well as warm clothing should be kept in an easy to access location in her vehicle. Behind the driver or passenger seat is probably best. In the event she is stranded on the roads during winter weather, she can stay warm and safe until help arrives.
- Senior Registry Program: Some communities in and around the Columbus area have programs in place to allow seniors and their caregivers to register an older adult’s name and address and note the fact that they live alone. It makes first responders aware of her situation during emergencies.
- Respite Care Services: Our final tip is to take advantage of a respite care program at a Columbus area assisted living community if you and your husband need to travel this winter. This way, you can ensure your aunt will stay safe and secure until your return.
I hope this list gives you the resources you need to keep your aunt safe this winter!
Rocky Nutter, Director of Maintenance