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1156932In an ideal world, our senior citizens are never at risk, but the frail and vulnerable face a variety of challenges in the real world – especially when they have to rely on a single caregiver who may not live nearby. Being part of a community of supportive people is a major benefit of moving to an apartment with Assisted Living services.

This becomes clear when Rome families face the stress of extreme situations, whether it is winterizing a home or preparing an aging relative living alone for the potential hazards that come with sustained cold and rainy weather. The time to prepare for such conditions is now, while loved ones are gathered for the holidays and there’s time to assess risks and take precautions.

Beyond the mobility and occasional memory issues that make everyday life a challenge for some seniors, bitter cold temperatures can affect them in a variety of ways, from feelings of depression and isolation to actual physical danger from hypothermia.

Here in the Deep South, Georgia’s elderly may face less severe winters than our northern counterparts, but one complicating risk is a reliance upon a family caregiver who may be prevented from reaching them swiftly due to ice and snow. Time and again, we see that southerners aren’t always adept at adapting to rapidly deteriorating weather.

When a senior lives at Riverwood, access to food, water and medicines is not a problem even if the roads are unsafe, but a homebound person, possibly disabled, can face a much more dire situation. Whereas our residents have transportation provided, a senior living alone in a residential neighborhood may be tempted to get behind the wheel when it is unadvisable. It’s important for grown children taking care of them to be responsive and communicate when conditions are unsafe on roads, as well as in the home. This is especially true if the senior is displaying signs of possible dementia because getting stuck on the highway as temperatures plummet can have disastrous consequences.

The responsibility falls on the designated caregiver to make sure a roof isn’t leaky, frozen pipes don’t burst and the snow gets shoveled out of the senior’s driveway. Attempting to walk on a sidewalk, unaware that it is icy, can result in a fall that leads to a costly hospital visit.

Speaking of hospitals, Riverwood residents and their families enjoy the peace of mind of knowing that nursing staff on hand can attend to emergencies when weather conditions affect their health. Being a part of our community benefits them in other ways as seniors enjoy scheduled activities to keep them stimulated and spur social interaction that the homebound elderly may lack if their only regular companion is a television set. The elderly and very young are at greater risk of exposure to the cold while outside, plus feelings of grief and loneliness are more pronounced during the holidays because the time is steeped in tradition and family.

More people die in the winter months than in any other season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Scientists still can’t explain this phenomenon, although there are plenty of popular theories, including stress and sadness or reduced hospital staffing around the holidays. By giving our residents rides to their doctor’s office for regular visits, we empower them to address many potential health problems before they arise.

Caregivers to those seniors aging in place in their homes, rather than a community like Riverwood, need to give special attention to having extra food, water and medicines available in the home in case they are unable to reach the senior. AARP recommends contacting the local electric company and fire department in advance of an emergency if a senior is reliant upon devices that depend on electricity because this can result in priority reconnection of services during a power outage.

Riverwood residents enjoy the serenity that comes from having staff present at all times who are dedicated to their wellbeing. Those who aren’t so fortunate to be a part of such a community need to have someone within walking distance of their home who is willing to check in on them to make sure they do not need additional assistance to ensure their safety. Our seniors are precious and must be protected when conditions are extreme. That begins with planning and taking precautions before they are needed.

To learn more about moving to Riverwood Retirement Community, call us at (706) 235-0807. We’re happy to meet with your family, give a tour and discuss all of the benefits of senior retirement living at its finest.