By Attorney Liz Durnell
Watching the news right now it's hard to not hear about Hurricane Sandy and the “Perfect Storm” that is about to hit the east coast and has left me wondering about advice to give to Seniors so that they can protect themselves in in-climate or winter weather.
This led me to the following article entitled “Seven Tips: Winter Health & Safety for Older Adults” by the Center for Aging and Community.
1. Tread carefully - To help avoid falls, wear appropriate shoes outdoors and put road salt, sand or kitty litter on sidewalks and driveways. Better yet, if the walks haven’t been cleared, ask friends or relatives for help with errands such as grocery shopping.
2. Avoid overwork - Find someone to handle snow shoveling and other strenuous outdoor tasks. Cold weather causes blood vessels to constrict, which increases the risk of heart attack for people with heart disease or other conditions that strain the heart’s ability to pump blood.
3. Exercise indoors- Staying indoors does not mean being inactive. Keep in shape by walking in place, using a stationary bike or working out with a fitness video, available at the local library. Daily stretching exercises can help maintain flexibility. Check with your physician before beginning any exercise program.
4. Bundle up - Cold temperatures are a serious threat to seniors, especially those with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. A person who wanders from home without proper clothing in the winter can quickly fall victim to frostbite or hypothermia. Families should consider installing alarm systems that signal whenever an outside door is opened.
5. Keep the heat on Inadequate indoor heat also can cause hypothermia. Keep home temperatures above 65 degrees and dress in layers to maintain body temperature. If you have difficulty paying the heating bill, contact your gas or electric utility about ways to continue service through the winter.
6. Clear the air - If you heat your home with a fireplace, gas furnace or gas-powered space heater, invest in carbon monoxide detectors, which can be purchased at a home improvement store for as little as $30. Carbon monoxide in the air can displace the oxygen in your blood stream and cause headache, dizziness, nausea, convulsions and even death within two hours. The effects can be even faster for people with heart or respiratory illnesses.
7. Socialize - Depression is more common in the winter months, and bad weather can mean social isolation for many seniors. Make efforts to spend time with family, friends and neighbors, and when weather makes visiting difficult, pick up the phone for a chat.
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