With age comes wisdom ... here is more

Winter is here and this means charming snow-covered landscapes and outdoor activities we have been waiting all year to do. It also means bitter temperatures, bleak weather and treacherous conditions.

Cold winter months also bring flu season and seniors are far more susceptible to injury and illness due to the cold. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 2010 and 2019, 336,000 people died of the flu, and 90% of these deaths from 2017-18 were adults over the age of 65.

To those who are more fragile and less stable, the drop in temperature and icy conditions pose a challenge. Every year in the United States, one of every three people over the age of 65 will experience a fall. Last year according to the CDC, approximately 1.8 million people over the age of 65 were treated in an emergency room because of a fall. In the winter months with colder temperatures and dangerous conditions, the risk of falls for seniors increases significantly.

That being said, seniors do not have to spend the winter months indoors, but thought should be given to how you can keep your elderly loved ones healthy and safe this season. Here are four great tips to follow:

  1. Dress Appropriately and Turn up the Heat Older adults lose body heat quickly, making them very susceptible to hypothermia. Dressing in multiple layers helps keep them warm and reduces heat loss. Be sure seniors properly bundle up in a hat, scarf, gloves and a warm coat. Exposed skin is defenseless to freezing temperatures and winds. The thermostat should always be set to at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit. During the freezing winter months, keeping the thermostat below this can lead to hypothermic conditions (a body temperature of 95 degrees or below). While many seniors live on a budget, it is very important to keep their homes warm. Other projects can be done around the house to keep heating bills down such as closing vents, putting plastic on windows or placing rolled blankets or towels in front of doors to reduce drafts.
  2. Prevent the Flu The best and safest way to protect against the flu is to get an annual flu shot. In addition to getting a flu shot, there are many other things you can do to protect against the flu. Do not touch your face. Wash hands often. Cough and sneeze into the bend of your arm. Clean and disinfect all commonly touched surfaces often. Eat healthy foods. Get adequate rest. Avoid contact with anyone you suspect to be carrying a virus.
  3. Avoid Slipping on Icy Surfaces The risks of falls are especially high this year, due to winter’s slippery conditions. The risks are even greater for seniors, leading to serious injury like broken hips. Here are tips to prevent falls: Remain cautious and allow for extra time. Use handrails when available. Wear flat footwear with treads and good traction. Avoid carrying lots of items at one time. Clear your walks. Keep floor mats inside. Keep walkways and driveways clear and salted. Carry kitty litter or sand in a bag to sprinkle on unsafe surfaces.
  4. Stay Stocked and Prepared Keep enough basic supplies stocked at home such as canned goods, toiletries and pet food to prevent the temptation to venture out on a cold stormy day. Seniors should have plenty of food and water to last for five to seven days. In case of a power outage, homes should have items like an easily accessible flashlight and a battery-powered radio. Do a home safety check to ensure that all fireplaces, stoves and gas appliances are in properly working order. They can leak carbon monoxide that can be deadly. Install a carbon monoxide detector and be sure to check smoke detector batteries.

Seniors do not have to fear the winter months, but precautions do need to be made to keep them healthy and safe. Following these guidelines will give the peace of mind for them to maintain their health and enjoy themselves throughout the season.

In the unfortunate event that you or a loved one suffers an injury this winter season, the compassionate and experienced attorneys at Hupy and Abraham, S.C. are here to help. Call 800-800-5678 for a free consultation, or start a live chat anytime at Hupy.com.

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