In PSW training, you learn many skills that can help senior clients feel more secure and at ease. During the colder months, that training will be particularly useful. Here’s a look at just a few of the ways you can care for older clients in the winter.
PSWs Can Help Prevent Slips and Falls, Both Inside and Out
Sidewalks or driveways that have not been cleared of snow and ice are extremely dangerous. For young people, slipping on ice usually just means a couple bruises, but for older adults it can mean broken bones and worse. While PSWs may not be expected to clear their clients’ driveways and sidewalks themselves, PSW training, especially courses focused on caring for those with reduced mobility, includes valuable tools for reducing the risk of falls. As a PSW, you can talk to clients about what snow clearing services they have. If they don’t have somebody clearing their snow, ask them if they know anybody—like a friend or neighbour—who might be able to do it.
The threat from slips and falls doesn’t just exist outside during the winter. All that snow, ice, and slush gets tracked inside too, which makes interior surfaces very wet and slippery. To reduce the risk of falls inside, encourage your clients to wear slip-proof shoes or slippers.
Use Your Personal Support Worker Certificate to Ensure Your Client Eats Healthy
In personal support worker courses you learn about meal preparation and nutrition, which is a very important topic during the winter when most people stay inside more and make fewer trips to the grocery store. For senior clients, that can mean fewer items in their pantries and less nutritional variety. Make sure your clients have a well-stocked kitchen with a variety of healthy foods. Items that are high in Vitamin D are an especially good idea.
In the event of a power outage or during a bad storm, it may be difficult for your client to replenish their kitchen cupboards. Make sure they have at least a seven-day supply of non-perishable foods in case of such an emergency. If your client can’t make the trip to the grocery store themselves to stock up on food, encourage them to ask someone they know to do it for them. As you learn during a personal support worker certificate, each client has different needs. Some clients may be less comfortable asking friends or family for help with getting groceries. In many cases, those clients don’t want to sacrifice their independence or they are worried about “being a bother.”
Make Sure They Are Always Warm Enough
Seniors are at an increased risk of hypothermia in the winter, which happens when the body’s core temperature dips below 35⁰C. PSWs learn how to recognize potential medical emergencies like hypothermia in older clients. Certain clients will be especially vulnerable to the cold, such as those with cardiac problems.
While space heaters can help senior clients stay warm during the winter, they can be dangerous if not used properly. Make sure clients use any heating devices safely, such as by keeping them far away from drapes, curtains, and anything else that could catch fire. Double-check that fire and carbon monoxide alarms are working. The interpersonal skills you develop during PSW training are invaluable for helping clients understand the risks of cold weather. Ask them if they have lots of extra blankets and if they know anyone who can check in on them when you can’t be there.
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