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Information from Care.com & Fulton Co. Office for Aging
Avoid Slipping on Ice-
Icy, snowy roads and sidewalks make it easy to slip and fall. "Unfortunately, falls are a common occurrence for senior citizens, especially during the winter months," says Dr. Stanley Wang, a physician at Stanford Hospital in Palo Alto, Calif. Often these falls cause major injuries such as hip and wrist fractures, head trauma and major lacerations. While younger people often recover relatively quickly from such injuries, older adults face complications, which Dr. Wang says are a leading cause of death from injury in men and women over the age of 65. Make sure to wear shoes with good traction and non-skid soles, and stay inside until the roads are clear. Replace a worn cane tip to making walking easier. Take off shoes as soon as you return indoors because often snow and ice attach to the soles and, once melted, can lead to slippery conditions inside.
Dress for Warmth-
Cold temperatures can lead to frostbite and hypothermia -- a condition where the body temperature dips too low. According to the CDC, more than half of hypothermia-related deaths were of people over the age of 65.
So don't let indoor temperatures go too low and dress in layers. Going outside? Wear warm socks, a heavy coat, a warm hat, gloves and a scarf. In very cold temperatures, cover all exposed skin. Use a scarf to cover your mouth and protect your lungs. Your body temperature should never dip below 95 degrees -- if it does get medical assistance immediately.
Fight Wintertime Depression-
Because it can be difficult and dangerous to get
around, many seniors have less contact with others
during cold months. This can breed feelings of
loneliness and isolation. To help avoid these
issues, family members can check in on seniors as
often as possible; even a short, daily phone call
can make a big difference. Seniors can also arrange
a check-in system with neighbors and friends, where
each person looks in on one or two others daily.
Check the Car-
Driving during the winter can be hazardous for
anyone. But it is especially dangerous for older
people, who may not drive as often anymore or whose
reflexes may not be as quick as they once were. Get
your car serviced before wintertime hits -- or ask a
family member to bring it to a garage for you.
Checking things like the oil, tires, battery and
wipers can make a big difference on winter roads.
Also make sure your AAA membership is up-to-date in
case of emergencies.
Prepare for Power Outages-
Winter storms can lead to power outages. Make sure
you have easy access to flashlights and a
battery-powered radio in case the power goes out.
Stockpile warm blankets. Longer power outages can
spoil the food in your refrigerator and freezer so
keep a supply of non-perishable foods that can be
eaten cold on hand. If the power goes out, wear
several layers of clothing, including a hat. Move
around a lot to raise your body temperature. Check
out this winter weather checklist from the CDC to
make sure you have everything you may need.
Eat a Varied Diet-
Because people spend more time indoors and may eat a
smaller variety of foods, nutritional deficits --
especially Vitamin D deficiency -- can be a problem.
The Office for Aging registered dietician recommends
consuming foods that are fortified with Vitamin D,
such as milk, grains and seafood options like tuna
Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning-
Using a fireplace, gas heater or lanterns can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. Ensure your safety by checking the batteries on your carbon monoxide detector and buying an updated one if you need to.
The most important tip to keep in mind during the colder months is to ask for help. If you need to clear your property of snow and ice, don't hesitate to ask a family member or neighbor, or hire a professional. Arrange rides to the grocery store and doctor's appointments. Call the Fulton Co. Office for Aging at 518-736-5650 to get assessed to use the Senior Transportation system. Don't be afraid to reach out for help.