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Cold Weather Tips for Seniors

cold-weather-tipsWhen temperatures drop, it’s risky for everyone. But for seniors, it can be an even more serious health risk. Seniors are particularly susceptible to complications from winter weather. Falls, influenza and hypothermia top the list of winter problems. The JFK Hartwyck centers, the largest skilled nursing and rehabilitation provider in central New Jersey, offer some valuable tips on how to keep seniors safe and comfortable during the winter as temperatures drop.

“We want to share some of our tips to ensure the continued welfare and safety of thousands of older New Jerseyans,” says Andrew Kahane, assistant administrator, JFK Hartwyck at Edison Estates. “Our staff does an excellent job of protecting residents from extreme cold and related conditions and can offer a few basic tips on cold weather safety.”

  • Make sure seniors wear hats, mittens, scarves and a warm coat, and layers when going outside.
  • Provide proper footwear for seniors. In the outdoors, a rubber sole shoe with treads for ice and snow is needed. Indoors, a shoe with a thin rubber sole or rough leather sole is advised.
  • Make sure sidewalks and driveways are clear and sanded or salted.
  • Keep room temperatures set at 70 degrees or warmer.
  • Inspect the heating unit and make sure it is in good working condition.
  • Arrange for plenty of blankets to keep seniors warm while they sleep.
  • Talk with seniors about the importance of eating nutritious foods and drinking fluids. A bad diet can lead to a lowered immune system.
  • Be aware of medications that the senior in your life is taking, as certain medications can cause dizziness or affect the blood vessels’ ability to respond to temperature changes.
  • Cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, to avoid spreading germs.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly, to prevent circulating the flu or other illnesses.
  • Falls are more likely when ice and snow make walking outdoors more difficult. Falls and their consequences are one of the leading causes of death in people 65 and older.
  • Influenza cases increase in winter. With some seniors having weakened immune systems, it is important that they avoid contact with those who have symptoms of the flu.
  • Hypothermia is a condition of below-normal body temperature and can happen when the body’s temperature is at or below 96 degrees. Persons older than 75 are five times more likely to die from hypothermia than those younger than 75.