Isolation is a serious problem. Montreal winters are especially difficult. We are encouraged to visit loved ones in their homes or residences, engage them in activities, and take them on outings. It sounds simple enough until streets and sidewalks become unsafe.
Several years ago, I helped an elderly man get home after I saw him struggling to leave a bank on a day when the sidewalks were like skating rinks. He would take one step and then move back fearing he was about to fall. It was a struggle for both of us to make it safely to my car. We chatted during the drive to his apartment and I escorted him home where he insisted I enter. It turns out that he took photographs at the elementary school I attended and his living room was decorated with all the school photos he took. Within minutes I found my picture on his living room wall. Small world?
How can we help the vulnerable seniors in our lives stay safe yet active on icy and snowy winter days? We can visit them and offer to help with whatever it is they were hoping to accomplish, whether it be with grocery shopping or banking. If it’s too dangerous to venture outside, a lengthy phone call will do.
Then there is modeling behaviour: if your loved one knows you are staying home due to difficult weather conditions, they may agree to do the same. If the person can be picked up safely, arrange for a driver to take them to their local library, senior centre, community centre, or indoor mall. Arrangements can be made with larger organizations such as the Cummings Centre for transport from the centre, to pick up and deliver your loved one safely.
Whatever you decide, encourage your loved ones to be active, even as they stay safe!