One of our clients has a dear little house where she lives alone.

As part of our home care duties she asked for our assistance in helping her prepare for winter. Here are a few of the things we helped with:

Make sure the house is going to be cozy and warm. This means checking all the windows and doors for possible drafts. Call your handyman should you find any problem areas.

Does the furnace need an inspection? Call the furnace man. Carbon monoxide is a silent killer and you want to make sure that there is no potential for a leak.

Check all light bulbs and make sure you have a good supply. It is dark in winter. In downtown Montreal we do not have many power failures but it does happen from time to time. This can be frightening for a senior – especially someone with bad eyesight. Should there be an ice storm or a bad snow storm it is always a good idea to have some candles and matches on hand just in case. Also, check your flashlight batteries. It is a good idea to have a big flashlight at the bedside.

Many homes have coco matting on the front steps. Is the matting in good condition and safe to walk on, or is it frayed here and there? Get that fixed up. All you need is one frayed loop and you could go flying down the stairs. Look at the matting when it is in place and make sure that it is tightly connected with the rods. Also, pre-arrange to have your snow shoveling done, whether it is with a private contractor or the teenager next door.

We had a couple of terrific rain storms this summer, including one in Girouard Park which brought down a large number of big trees. Look around the garden and call Hydro if you see a potential problem branch hanging loose. They will come and take care of it for free.

We also like to make sure that any general appointments a home care client needs are done before the snow falls. Be proactive. Get things done before the snow and ice arrive. If at all possible do not go out if there is any risk of falling.

Here at The Worn Doorstep we are aware that winter can be a depressing time for our clients. It is important that they have access to good nutrition, and personal contact from their home care visitors or family and friends. We visit and call often. Little things around the house can also make a difference – things that they used to enjoy but can’t do easily on their own anymore. I got the bird feeder fixed up so that one of our clients could watch the birds and I filled it regularly on visiting. This client had been an avid birder when she was well. There is something lovely about seeing the cardinals and chickadees in winter. We are also big fans of CBC radio, and CBC and PBS on TV. TV offers a wide variety of channels now, and you can watch anything from the Metropolitan Opera to the National Theatre in London to a variety of symphony orchestra concerts and so much more. PBS is marvelous with its offerings like Masterpiece Theatre and Poldark and The Durrells. So if the home care client is interested, and loves music and the arts, we get them set up with some of these marvelous stations.

These are just a few ideas – with thought and preparation winter is manageable.