St. Andrew's Senior Solutions

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Cold Weather Risks

Along with wishing everyone a Happy and Safe Holiday Season, the staff at Senior Solutions would like to take this opportunity to remind our caregivers and clients to pay special attention to weather related risks this time of year.  Older adults and those with certain medical conditions are at a higher risk of developing hypothermia.  Arthritis, Parkinson’s Disease, Diabetes, heart disease, respiratory ailments, poor circulation, memory impairment, and mental illness all create a greater risk for hypothermia, which is when the body becomes too cold to function properly.  Severe hypothermia can cause an irregular heart rate which can lead to heart failure and death.  Other risk factors include living alone, living in drafty or poorly insulated homes, and living on a limited income.  Many older adults may have a combination of these risk factors so please be aware and pay special attention to those loved ones during this time of year. 

This is also the time of year that many people travel.  Make sure that your family has adequate supplies for winter safety in the event of an emergency.  A winter storm watch means that severe weather is possible for your area.  A winter storm warning means that severe weather is approaching your area.  A blizzard warning means that dangerous weather is expected and you should seek shelter immediately.  In each of these cases, your family should be prepared both at home and if you are traveling.  You should have on hand blankets, a first aid kit that includes essential medications for those you are traveling or staying with, protective clothing, a portable radio, flashlight, and batteries, and any special items that children, an older loved one, or someone with any medical condition may require.  Remember to carry kitty litter in your trunk both to help weigh down the vehicle and this can be used for traction under your tires if needed.  If you do get stuck, stay with your vehicle, do not attempt to walk to safety.  Tie a brightly colored cloth to your antenna.  Start the car only for 10 minutes every hour and make sure the exhaust pipe is clear.  Leave the overhead light on when the engine is running.  Keep one window facing away from the wind slightly open to let in fresh air.  As you sit, move your arms and legs to help circulation and to stay warm. 

If there is a winter storm in your area, be sure to assist your older loved ones with shoveling and keeping their walkways clear of snow and ice.  Older adults may become more easily overexerted and also often have a greater fall risk.  Please take extra time to ensure your safety as well as the safety of your loved ones so everyone can have a Joyous and Peaceful Holiday Season.