12/03/2013 05:39 EST | Updated 02/02/2014 05:59 EST

Living With a Senior? Prepare Your Home for Winter With These Tips

Natalie Strouth is a nurse with Saint Elizabeth and the information specialist behind Ask Elizabeth, a free caregiver support service. Saint Elizabeth, a home health care company, has been a trusted name in Canadian health care for more than a century and is a national, not-for-profit, charitable organization.

In her weekly column, Natalie answers your questions about caring for a family member or friend who needs extra support -- and caring for yourself as a caregiver.

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It's that time of year again...winter is coming! With the first dusting of snow falling on my house, I am reminded that snow, ice and slippery conditions can pose high risks for older adults and those who depend on mobility devices to get around.

For an older adult, a fall or being left without heat can pose a serious health risk so making sure the time is taken to prepare for the upcoming cold and slippery winter months will be well worth the effort.

At Saint Elizabeth Health Care we've put together an infographic about preparing a home for winter, with these tips:

  • Make sure outside lights are working and will last over the winter. Adequate exterior lights at night help to prevent falls.
  • Make sure water drains away from landings and outside steps.
  • Find and repair areas around the property that pool with water when it rains. These areas can become icy.
  • Schedule an annual cleaning for the heating system and check that it is in good working order.
  • Have someone clean out the eavestroughs.
  • Make sure smoke detectors and a carbon monoxide detector are working properly.
  • Organize the closet to have layers and warm clothing handy as conditions change.
  • Have some sand or ice melter ready at your door to spread on your steps and walkway.
  • Also keep sand or ice melter material in your car.
  • Clear walkways of ice and snow.
  • Hire someone through a local seniors' centre to clean walkways and the driveway if you require assistance.
  • Ensure a mobile or portable phone is available to call for help.

Other winter tips:

  • Get warm, waterproof clothing for feet and hands protect from frostbite. As adults get older they are more susceptible to hypothermia. Avoid long periods in cold weather.
  • If a cane is used, have a new rubber tip installed -- some have a retractable ice pick.
  • Ensure to have non-slip rubber soles on shoes or boots when going outside. Ice grippers can be helpful but need to be removed when going indoors.
  • Attach a portable light to a walker for evening use.

We all want to live at home for as long as possible. With some simple planning and a little effort we can help those we care about live safe and comfortably at home as they age.

Send your caregiving question to Answers may appear in an upcoming weekly column. Ask Elizabeth does not offer legal guidance, nor does it answer questions about personal health issues.