From the moment leaves start changing colour and raking begins, we know the need for winter weather preparation has arrived. Older adults preparing for the winter may be planning snowbird trips or stocking food and supplies for unpredictable weather. In this article, we share some winter weather preparation tips to help you and your family get ready for a safe season ahead.
Avoiding winter slips, falls, and injuries
Across Canada, winter weather can range from cold and wet to blustering winds and heavy snow, but you can still find ways to prepare for changing conditions. Be aware of extreme cold weather warnings and be sure to dress accordingly or try to limit exposure to harsh conditions altogether.
Environment Canada warns that frostbite can occur in as little as ten minutes when skin is exposed to temperatures between -28 to -39° Celsius. Additionally, exposure to chilly, wet conditions can lead to hypothermia. Having winter accessories ready is crucial to staying safe outdoors such as cleats if you’re in Quebec to cozy mittens and hats in the Prairies to warm waterproof jackets and boots in the B.C.
Synonymous with winter weather preparation is the anticipation of ice and snow, which increases the likelihood of slips and falls for everyone. Falls are the leading cause of injury among older Canadians; in fact, 85% of injury-related hospitalizations among those 65 and older are caused by falls. Over one-third of older adults are admitted to long-term care after being hospitalized for a fall, so anticipating that wintertime increases the likelihood of falls can help caregivers and loved ones better prepare.
Having de-icing supplies on hand and arranging for extra support to clear pathways and driveways can help reduce the risk of a serious fall or strain from shovelling snow. Inspecting and changing your car’s winter tires, windshield wipers, and windshield washer fluid before the first big snowfall can also help to keep you safe on the roads.
Some things to check before winter hits:
Pull any winter clothes and accessories out of storage early so you’re prepared for potentially sudden (and severe) weather changes
Organize the tools and help you’ll need to clear snow from outdoor pathways, including any de-icing supplies as early as possible
Ensure you can call for emergency help if a slip or fall does occur (wearing the LivingWell Companionᵀᴹ Go(1), (2) pendant while doing activities that may increase your risk of a fall helps you access a trained operator at the push of a button)
Staying comfortable indoors during the winter
While it may be tempting to blast the heat on a snowy day or, alternatively, to lower the thermostat to save on hydro bills, maintaining a comfortable indoor temperature is essential for your well-being and for the stability of any medications you may take. Some medicines and chronic conditions are affected by temperature, so TELUS Health recommends keeping your home between 19-21° Celsius for comfort and safety.
Though it’s easier to be physically active in the warmer months with walks or hikes, staying active during the winter is crucial. Maintaining an exercise program for strength and mobility helps prevent falls and can dramatically speed up recovery from injuries. Activities like yoga, Tai Chi, dancing, and light resistance training can be done in the comfort of your home, with guided videos, or at your local community centre.
The holiday season can be a time when friends and family get together, but it can also be a difficult or lonely time for some people. Maintaining social activities or contact with others can go a long way to helping with the blues that tend to settle in during the winter. Preparing or sharing healthy meals and treats can also offer the opportunity to connect with others in your community. TELUS Health MyCareᵀᴹ offers convenient access to see healthcare providers(3) like doctors, counsellors, and dietitians right from your smartphone so you can get the support you need from the comfort of your home (access to regulated health services varies by province).
Some ways you can beat the winter blues:
Keep your home comfortable and safe with adequate heat and lighting
Stay physically active however you can — indoors or outdoors — and perhaps consider making it a social activity with a loved one
Feeling more independent in the winter
If you’re venturing out alone, TELUS Health recommends letting someone know where you’re off to (and when you’re due back) as a precaution. Carrying a personal emergency response system (PERS) like TELUS Health LivingWell Companionᵀᴹ is a great way to have more independence at home or on the go. A PERS device offers you an emergency response service at the push of a button with a trained operator ready to help at the other end of the line. With features like optional fall detection available on some devices, you and your loved ones can feel more peace of mind knowing you have access to 24/7 emergency support when you need it most — and at the push of a button.
Plus, our integration with Apple Watch provides a discreet and easy solution for an extra layer of support no matter where you go.
Some ways to help you stay independent:
Chat openly about your needs and expectations with loved ones so they know how to best support you
Following these winter weather preparation tips can help ensure you and your home are ready for the tough season ahead. Browse the latest offers on TELUS Health LivingWell Companionᵀᴹ and enjoy the comfort that 24/7 emergency support offers. So, whether you’re shoveling the driveway, going for a snowy walk, or braving the mall traffic, you can feel safer knowing that help is just a simple push of a button away.
Keep living independently and enjoy peace of mind with LivingWell Companionᵀᴹ
Go operates anywhere in Canada where cellular coverage is available. GPS capabilities are approximate and may not always be possible.
The available fall detection feature might not detect all falls. If you do fall, do not wait for the call, always press and hold the button for help when possible.
Doctor consultations are currently not available in Quebec. Doctor consultations are only available at no cost to you in AB, BC, SK, and ON residents covered by their provincial health plans. The application uses internet data (Wi-Fi or mobile), overage charges may apply with your respective provider.
Counsellor/dietitian: Users must be 16 years or older to access dietitian appointments. Dietitian appointments require additional payment of $120. Users under some employer-sponsored solutions will not pay a fee for the service. Users under other employer-sponsored solutions will be required to pay $120 per dietitian appointment. Any payments for appointments must be paid using a valid credit card. An in-app receipt will be provided for you to claim for reimbursement if applicable.