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The Hickman in the snow.

Be Prepared for Winter

January 9, 2019

By Charles “Ebbie” Alfree III, Director of Advancement 

Although winter officially began on December 21st, the beginning of the new year is the start of our coldest and snowiest weather of the year. With that said, it is important for seniors to prepare and ensure they are ready for the season.

According to Winter Care Tips for Seniors by Angelo Antoline of Elkhorn Valley Rehabilitation Hospital, following these seven safety tips can make the winter an easier time for older adults:

  • Since seniors are at a greater risk of developing hypothermia, it’s important for them to stay warm. Older adults should keep their indoor temperature above 65 degrees. Warning signs of hypothermia include shivering, cold and pale or ashy skin, sudden confusion, slowed breathing and heart rate, or abnormal fatigue. If someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, call 911.
  • Older adults need to take caution when walking outside in snow and ice to avoid falling. Keep your senior family members and friends safe by shoveling their steps and walk/driveways. If a fall should occur, immediately seek professional assistance.
  • With many people not going out as often in the winter, it does help to reduce falls and catch winter illnesses. However, it can also cause wintertime depression. If you notice a loved one is feeling down or sad, visit and call the person. It’s important to not just check on the person but to also plan activities.
  • Another issue caused by not going out is less exposure to the sun, which can decrease the levels of Vitamin D in people. It is important that older adults maintain a healthy diet that includes Vitamin D enriched products, such as milk, grains, and certain seafood. A Vitamin D supplement may be needed.
  • Serious emergencies, such as power outages, can occur during winter storms. Make sure to have enough food, water, medications, blankets, flashlights, etc. for when a storm may hit. For those who have senior loved ones, you may want to invite them over to your house or stay with them, so they do not have to go through the storm alone.
  • Take caution when driving. Inclement weather can cause roads to be icy and dangerous. Seniors may want to limit their driving in the winter season, but if it is necessary, older adults should keep warm blankets and extra clothes, flashlight, snow scraper, battery jumper, spare tire, etc. in their cars If you know an older adult who needs to go out during the winter, maybe offer him/her a ride or suggest using Uber or Lyft as an option.
  • Make sure heating systems are not only working properly but are also safe. Have heaters, furnaces and fireplaces checked by professionals to ensure they are operating correctly? Remember staying warm is important to remain safe during the winter.

Following these tips will not only make the winter an easier and safer time for older seniors but also safer helping to reduce adverse situations and injuries.

Printed in the Daily Local News on Wednesday, January 9, 2019.