7 Senior Essentials for Preparing a Wintertime Quarantine Safety Kit
Autumn is arriving, and with it comes the rush of thoughts about upcoming holidays, changing temperatures and what’s in store for winter this year. There’s no doubt some of this unknown will be faced with anxiety about how to plan for the next several months. In particular, many seniors and their loved ones worry about how to handle any necessary quarantine measures.
It is both highly common and completely understandable to be concerned about these risks. Fortunately, there’s also plenty you can do to plan ahead and create some peace of mind around these issues. Whether you’re already imagining the possibilities or haven’t quite thought that far ahead, we wanted to provide some helpful information and insights to ease the planning process.
Check out these essential considerations for developing a reliable senior safety kit and a practical approach to navigating the challenges of a wintertime quarantine.
- Proper reserve of food, water and household needs
This is an obvious one, but knowing exactly what to stock up on can seem difficult and daunting. Whether you’re planning for yourself or the senior in your life, remember to consider senior nutrition, special dietary needs and personal must-haves.
Because various varieties of fresh foods can spoil rather quickly, you’ll want to buy canned items with a longer shelf life, or options that can be frozen. Think about protein choices like meat, fish and bean products, as well as soups, broths and stews, canned or frozen fruits and vegetables, canned or powdered milk, cooking and baking items (e.g., flour, sugar, oil and spices) and other meal and snack staples such as peanut butter and jelly, crackers, nuts, dried fruits, granola bars, pastas, water bottles, coffee and tea.
Make sure you also account for everyday household needs like toilet paper, paper towels, foils and wraps, trash bags, toothpaste, toiletries, batteries, light bulbs and matches, as well as any food and supplies you might need in order to care for a pet.
If you’ll need a more regular supply of fresh groceries and household items, there’s the option of having them delivered by a local store. Be sure to do some research and find out which establishments and delivery methods work best for you or your loved one.
- Ample amount of prescription and over-the-counter medications
The last thing you’ll want to worry about is running out of prescription medication during a wintertime quarantine. Talk to your doctor ahead of time to plan for an adequate supply of meds, or set up an automatic refill service that ensures they’ll be delivered to your door in time. This includes any supplements or vitamins your physician has recommended.
In addition, it’s prudent to plan for any over-the-counter aids you may need to help soothe potential symptoms of cold, cough or other illness. Regardless of whether you’re staying hunkered down or not, there’s always risk of experiencing a wintertime sickness. Keep the requisite supply of medications and aids on hand to deal with possible pain or discomfort in your head, throat, chest, stomach or other areas of the body, as well as items like humidifiers, thermometers and heating or cooling packs.
- Sanitation and risk-prevention items
When a virus is rampant, it’s critical to ensure you’re taking every precaution to protect yourself and others. Therefore, stock yourself or the senior in your life with the protective gear and supplies recommended for this purpose. Items to consider include proper face masks, disposable gloves, protective eye wear, hand soap and sanitizer, as well as cleaning implements such as disinfecting sprays and wipes, laundry sanitizers and alcohol solutions.
- List of emergency contacts
Should you or your loved one need urgent assistance while home, it will be crucial to have a prepared list of names and contact information to get in touch with someone. It’s a good idea to create this list ahead of time. Talk to family, friends and other sources of support to build a working index of people to contact in the event that you or your loved one encounters a problem while quarantining this winter.
- Technology for sustaining social connection and engagement
The combination of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and fewer opportunities for socialization can add up to isolation and depression for seniors, which is why it’s vital to prepare adequately for maintaining connection and engagement—even in the midst of a winter quarantine.
When spending time with loved ones and carrying out everyday tasks in public is no longer an option, it’s important to leverage the tools at your disposal to stay as connected and active as possible. If you have (or can get access to) a personal computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone for you or the senior in your life, there are lots of ways to use this device to keep in touch and help maintain mental and emotional health, including:
- Virtual calls and hangouts
- Social media engagement
- Email communication
- Online meetups and book clubs
- Exercise videos and classes
- Opportunities for learning and education
- Telehealth and counseling appointments
Staying connected is absolutely fundamental to maintaining overall health for you or the senior in your life, and the opportunities for leveraging technology to support this effort are plenty. Plan ahead to ensure this element of social touch (without the physical contact!) during a winter quarantine.
- Stock of supplies to keep warm
Seniors are at increased risk for frostbite and hypothermia during the frigid winter months, so preparing for cold weather dressing will be paramount. Make sure there is plenty of layerable clothing in warm yet breathable fabrics, such as polyester/wool blends and fleece, as well as potential outwear in the form of a heavy winter coat, thick socks, hats, gloves and scarves. These are instrumental to preventing dangerous heat loss.
Additionally, think about what might be necessary for keeping the home toasty and warm. Equipment and supplies such as space heaters, fire starters and logs, extra blankets and the like will be extremely valuable. You may even want to consider having the heating unit serviced ahead of time so there’s minimized risk of experiencing a heating failure in the middle of a winter quarantine.
- On-hand services to support stay-at-home requirements
Last but not least, put some thought and energy into planning for needs that might be addressed with outside services and support. Depending on your particular needs, or those of your loved one, certain services may be essential for staying home and safe this winter. Here are a few options to examine:
- Food and supply deliveries
- Snow/ice removal
- Subscription services for entertainment, including television, movies, books and music
- Visiting home health aide, nurse or OT/PT professional for when you’re unable to safely visit the office
- Cleaning and/or laundry service if you’re not in a position to manage these tasks on your own
These are just a handful of the available support services you may want to consider as you plan for the challenges of a winter quarantine.
Of course, if you’re starting to think about whether you or the senior in your life can adequately navigate these kinds of difficulties, it might be time to look into senior living options. This is an incredibly valuable and worthwhile consideration to help ease the anxiety or burden of handling emerging challenges at this stage of life. Be sure to arm yourself with credible information by accessing this free guide to senior care options.
For additional tips on senior health and lifestyle issues, check out our blog. If you’re interested in learning more about United Methodist Homes senior living community, contact us today.If you're ready to visit a community, schedule your tour here.
About Marissa Salvesen
My journey into the world of senior living began when I started working for United Methodist Homes in 2010. Starting as an Activities Director at one of our-winning assisted and independent living communities and then transitioning to Marketing and Promotions Manager for UMH, I now work as the Manager of Mission Development, fostering the Mission and Values of our organization. I love sharing stories about the many ways we build meaningful relationships and enrich the lives of those we serve, and am proud to be part of building UMH’s 140-year legacy of caring. Wondering what makes our communities such special places to live and work? Connect with me and find out!