Loving the fall…Hatin’ on winter!

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love the fall! The brilliant colors, apple-picking, haunted hayrides, orange pumpkins, warm days, chilly nights and the smell of wood fires in the dusky twilight – it’s all just so, so perfect! Well…. almost.

 

The only “unfortunate” thing about the fall is that it means winter, the most dreaded of all the seasons, is on its way. Cold, forbidding, dark and icy winter is coming to get us. Everyone is affected, one way or another, be it child, adult or senior.

Actually, the child has it pretty good when winter rolls around. It’s all about Snow Days, sledding, coming in for hot chocolate, watching movies and an extra day to hang out with friends. No issues there.

For adults, it’s all about hunkering down and being prepared.  Salt for the steps is placed by the door. Snow blower is ready to go.  A pile of wood is stacked by the wood stove. The cars are positioned for easy exit. Comfort food is at the ready.

The reality is that even though we complain about the inconvenience of the winter season, it really is manageable and we, as active adults, are able to do what needs to be done to get through it.

For the senior adult, however, winter does cause legitimate anxieties.

Compromised by age and/or frailty and/or living alone, they do not often have the option to shovel their steps and driveways, put salt down on their slippery walkways, drag in firewood, or take a chance on icy roads even if they are still driving. They may not be able to rush the supermarkets like everyone else does when word of a storm is coming and thus, may not have needed supplies.

If their power goes out, they could face serious safety consequences, especially if they live alone and are not able to communicate that they need heat or electricity to read the labels on their prescription bottles. Even if a family member or friend checks in on them, it’s possible they might have difficulty reaching them in a timely fashion.

The senior’s tenuous grasp on independence is loosened once again when the harshness of winter compromises their safety.  But what to do?  The person needs help, but not a nursing home. What else is there? Well, there are actually several options that can be considered depending upon different levels of need.

Home Care might be an appropriate measure which would involve a nurse coming into the senior’s home as needed to check on a medical condition and/or an aide to help with light housekeeping, cooking and general assistance.

Adult Day Care programs are another possibility where the senior is picked up at their door for a day of social interaction, nursing assessment, meals and activities and brought home again at day’s end. Communities which offer senior housing with or without services is another option as it would give the person peace of mind knowing they are surrounded by their peers and/or if they needed extra help they could get that, too.

There is a greater awareness now of aging in place and trying to help seniors remain in their homes for as long as safely possible.  As a result, many programs and services are in place to promote this option. For more information on any of these services, please call Bethel Homes and Services at 914-739-6700. As a not-for-profit, full continuum of care, Bethel does offer the abovementioned programs and is also a resource for seniors, their families and community agencies to ensure that all avenues of assistance are explored for seniors to age safely in place.

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