safety 300 x 200Winter brings with it a slew of inherent risks for older bodies.

Extreme temperatures, snow, ice, and illness can be hazardous for anyone, let senior citizens who may have decreased strength and balance and more fragile immune systems. Embassy Healthcare offers the following suggestions for older adults and their families on taking proper precautions during the coldest months of the year:

Don’t Fall Victim to Injuries

As if surfaces covered in snow and ice weren’t perilous enough, seniors may be even more prone to falls due to having less sensation in their feet. The loss of sensation could be due to circulation problems, diabetes, arthritis, medication side effects, issues with their gait or stroke complications.

Decrease your chances of falling by:

  • Stay in if possible: In poor weather, don’t go out if you don’t need to. Wait until walking surfaces are clear.
  • Get help: Having an arm or hand to hold onto as you walk wintery paths can keep you upright.
  • Wear proper footwear: Slippers are good for keeping your feet warm indoors but don’t try to wear them outside. Put on shoes or boots with textured soles.
  • Hold onto fixed objects: Use particular caution when entering/exiting vehicles by holding onto doors or another person. Hold onto handrails whenever possible, especially on stairs.

Beware of Hypothermia

When an older body’s temperature drops below 95 degrees, it can cause heart problems such as liver damage, heart attack, kidney issues or even death. Even if you stay inside, be sure that your home is warm enough to keep you safe – set the thermostat to at least 68 degrees. To reduce heating bills, close vents and doors of rooms not being used. Use a rolled towel at bottom of doors to keep drafts out.

Seniors may also want to keep their body temperature up by wearing extra clothing indoors – thermal underwear, socks, slippers, and a hat will help keep you cozy inside.

Signs of hypothermia in its latter stages include:

  • Trouble moving, feeling clumsy
  • Slower heartbeat
  • Breathing becomes slow, shallow
  • Losing consciousness

If you suspect hypothermia in yourself or a loved one, try to warm them up by wrapping them in blankets, giving them something warm to drink (not alcohol or caffeine) or moving them to a warm place. Avoid rubbing their limbs, giving them a warm bath or using a heating pad. 

The only way to tell for sure if someone has hypothermia is with a special thermometer capable of reading low body temperatures – most hospital emergency rooms have them.

Dealing With Illness, Medications

A number of health conditions and medicines can make it difficult to regulate your body temperature or take appropriate measures to stay warm, including: diabetes, thyroid problems, arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, and memory loss.

Certain prescription and over-the-counter medications can also affect one’s body heat, particularly in sedentary bodies. Talk to your doctor about any elevated risk of hypothermia you may have based on your health and medications.

For more information on Embassy Healthcare services, call us at 888-975-1379 or contact us online.