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Baby, It's Cold Outside!

Winter—where the temperatures are dropping and the risk of injury is rising. The cold weather, snow, and ice are all ingredients that can cause a recipe for disaster. Hypothermia and falls are just a couple of the health risks you face during the long, cold days/nights of the winter season. All of these health risks are heightened with the older population.

Hypothermia is a condition where a person's core body temperature becomes dangerously low, which is usually caused by prolonged exposure to cold temperatures. The normal temperature a person should maintain averages around 98.6 degrees. When a person is experiencing hypothermia, their core temperature has dropped below 95 degrees. Severe hypothermia is when their core temperature has reached 82 degrees or lower. A few risk factors that increase your chance of experiencing hypothermia include older age, diabetes, thyroid conditions, and even some medications.

Some symptoms of hypothermia include shivering, slow/shallow breathing, confusion, drowsiness, slurred speech, weak pulse, and loss of coordination. Some might think that you need to have harsh conditions for hypothermia to occur. For our elders, unfortunately hypothermia can develop just from a power outage. During the winter months, it is important to check up on your elderly neighbors, especially during a power outage, to make sure that they are staying warm.

To avoid hypothermia, it is important to keep indoor temperatures at 65 degrees or warmer. You should also make sure to change out of wet clothes as soon as possible, as wet clothing will chill your body more quickly. Always make sure to dress for the weather with a couple layers of loose fitting clothes, and don't forget the hat, gloves/mittens, coat, boots and scarf!

An even more common health risk for elders during the winter is falls. Snow and ice do not provide the best surface for getting around. Always notice your surroundings, and be mindful that sometimes you can't see ice. Another precaution to take is choosing footwear that will provide traction. Many popular shoes for seniors are smooth on the soles. Make sure to wear footwear that has grooves, for the water and ice to go into.

Another important tip is to make sure you clear the snow and ice from your walkways. Make sure to throw down some salt as well! If you are not able to do this on your own, ask a neighbor or friend to help out in the winter. Also, if you do have an elderly neighbor, it's always a good idea to help them clear their walkways.

Besides proper shoes and clearing walkways, the best tip is to always allow extra time. Falls happen most often when people are running late, and begin to hurry. When you rush, you tend to not pay attention to your surroundings, or worry about your safety. If you need short-term therapy after suffering a fall, contact the RESTORE Therapy team at Heritage Health. Visit our website's location page to find the Heritage Health nearest you.

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Monday, May 27, 2019

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Heritage Operations Group is proud to provide the senior population in Illinois with rehabilitative therapy services, skilled nursing care, specialized Alzheimer’s and dementia care, assisted and supportive living, independent living and pharmacy services.

 

Heritage Operations Group, is a separate and distinct legal entity from any and all other entities named or listed on this website.  Any information contained in this website does not constitute evidence of a relationship between Heritage Operations Group, or any other named or listed entity.

Heritage Operations Group •  115 W. Jefferson St. Suite 401  •  P.O. Box 3188   Bloomington, IL   61702-3188
PH. 800-397-1313  •  FAX: 309-829-5477

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