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As temperatures drop across the county, and many states see the first signs of snow, it is apparent that winter is on it's way.  This is a good time to brush up on your winter safety tips, especially to help the aging members of your family and community stay safe. Here are a couple things to remember this winter.

Avoiding Slips & Falls

  • Snow and Ice need to be cleared from around the home, but it can be dangerous if an elderly person does it themselves.  If possible, help them by shoveling the snow, get them a snow blower or hire a service to come clear away the snow.  If they insist on doing it themselves make sure they are taking proper precautions so that they don't fall or overwork themselves.
  • For everyday errands, make sure your aging loved one has non-skid boots and that the rubber tips on their walker or cane is fairly new and has treads.

Preventing Hypothermia

  • Help your aging loved one bundle up during the winter season.  Seniors with Alzheimer's and dementia can tend to wander off and forget to wear enough warm layers, which leaves them subject to hypothermia and frostbite.
  • Make sure the heat is on.  Occupants older than 75 should never have the thermostat set below 65 or 70 degrees.
  • Check for these signs of hypothermia in your aging loved one:
    • Confusion or memory loss
    • Sleepiness
    • Slowed, slurred speech or shallow breathing
    • Weak pulse or low blood pressure
    • Exhaustion
    • A change in behavior during cold weather or a change in the way a person normally looks
    • A lot of shivering or no shivering; stiffness in the arms or legs
    • Poor control over body movements or slow reactions
    • Chilly rooms or other signs that a person has been in a cold place

Avoid Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

  • If you have a fireplace, gas furnace, or gas powered space heater, you should invest in a carbon monoxide detector.   The effects of carbon monoxide poisoning are devastating on the elderly and it is something that's easy to prevent.
  • Make sure you also have a working smoke alarm and that it is on.
For other Winter Weather safety tips, check out your state's health website.