Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate: Dr. Cynthia Speaks!

Topic: Seniors Care in Cold Temperatures

Cold weather and harsh conditions are hard for anyone to handle, but they can be dangerous and deadly for our older adults. Even though we prepare, when the weather hits, we find ourselves lacking this or that. Some seniors who live independently may feel they can venture out into the elements to drive to a store to collect missing items or travel to a family or friend’s house. Safety First! Safety Second!

A proactive step is to make such movements ahead of time. Walking outside the home could cause a severe fall. Snow and ice are nothing to take likely. Broken bones in older adults can take longer to heal, and other complications can occur with immobility after a fall. Blood clots are one example.

I have few suggestions to encourage you to watch out for our elders.

Save the bath and shower for later. When it is cold, body temperature is the priority in cold temperature. It is critical to ensure seniors maintain body temperature by wearing warm clothing and layer as much as possible. Also, keep the feet warm with thick socks and booties! Temperature control in the elderly is fragile, and hypothermia can occur with clothing is not sufficient.

The most common symptoms of hypothermia include:

· excessive shivering

· slowed breathing

· slowed speech

· clumsiness

· stumbling

· confusion

Any outside activities must include hats, scarves, and gloves when out-of-doors. There is a massive problem with space heaters. It is vital to make sure that the heater is away from the wall, curtains, and furniture.

Taking extra care of senior citizens during the wintertime is essential.

Dr. Cynthia J. Hickman is author and speaker. Her book: From the Lens of Daughter, Nurse, and Caregiver: A Journey of Duty and Honor shares caregiving tips.

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