• Karen McPhail, RN, MSN

Winter Weather Planning

Today the DC metro area is expected to get anywhere from 4- 10 inches of snow in the next 24 hours! This weekend is a good time to stay indoors, read a book, listen to some music, catch up on Netflix, and be safe! Hopefully, most of you have taken the necessary precautions based on some of my previous blogs to ensure that groceries are stocked in, medications have been filled, an emergency plan is in place for power loss, snow removal plans have been made, etc.

The winter months can be a difficult time filled with variable weather including: ice, cold temperatures, snow, freezing rain, and more. These issues can be a challenge for anyone at any age, but especially for older adults.

Below are some ideas and guidelines that may be helpful during the winter months:


Do not take unnecessary chances in the bad weather; be patient and wait until things clear before venturing out! Winter conditions can make it easy for someone to slip, fall, or have an injury. As much as you may want to venture out, please do so in a safe manner! If you use a walker or cane, ensure that the rubber tips are not worn down or slippery. Wait until pathways are dry and clear.


Cold temperatures can lead to issues such as frostbite and hypothermia. Cold temperatures also lower your immune system, placing you at risk for infections such as the flu. In cold conditions, wear warm clothing when venturing outside. Warm, comfortable socks, a warm coat, hat, ear muffs, gloves, and a scarf are great for when being outdoors.

Wear appropriate footwear with non-slip soles to prevent slipping. Lightweight boots are best. Plan outings for when the weather is clear so that you do not venture out on your own when it is not safe. If the temperatures are extreme, ensure that all exposed areas are covered by using a scarf or face mask to cover your face as well as your mouth to protect your lungs by warming the air while breathing. Dress in layers to stay warm, but also avoid overheating when indoors.


Have a plan in place for inclement weather!

Plan for the weather by having some things to do while inside, ensure that you have healthy meals and ample food on hand, your medications have been filled, any necessary supplies are on hand, etc.

Arrange to have a neighbor, family member, friend, or service shovel and salt or sand your walkways and driveway if possible. If you do not have family or friends in the area, have a Care Manager take care of arranging these items for you!

Ensure that walkways and steps are clear and without ice or snow before venturing out and about! Avoid venturing out in the early morning or after dark, as some areas can appear wet when they are really ice and a hazard. Avoid unsafe temptations such as the newspaper or mail delivery. If bad weather such as snow or ice is expected, stop the mail and paper for a few days to minimize anxiety or ask a neighbor or friend to pick these items up for you. People are usually happy to to help if asked!

If possible, stay inside until warmer or safer weather! If you need to be outside, limit the time spent outdoors and keep to safe paths. Use a transportation service such as gogograndparent (https://gogograndparent.com) or arrange for free transportation through a local Shepherd Center, a family member, or friend.

Often times, older adults feel trapped inside or bored during cold weather, which can lead to injuries and issues. If you have a family member or friend who is a senior, provide them with support during the cold winter months. Bring a family member over to your house if able to so that they can be with others during bad weather events. Come for more frequent visits, bring by a meal from time to time, and provide some fun games and other items to keep them occupied while needing to be indoors.

With support and planning, everyone can have a safe winter!

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