Company News

Winter Safety Tips for Seniors

January 31, 2019

The long winter months hold particular challenges for seniors, whether they are living on their own or in a skilled nursing facility like one of the six in The Allure Group’s network.

There are the dangers posed by ice and illness, and the challenge of isolation — even in a bustling eldercare facility.

So what is a senior to do?

When It’s Below Freezing

The key for those of any age is dressing for the conditions, but those needs are particularly acute among older adults, who lose body heat more quickly than in their younger years. Moreover, diabetes and thyroid problems can make it more difficult to regulate one’s internal thermometer, arthritis and Parkinson’s Disease can hinder a senior’s ability to put on additional clothing and Alzheimer’s Disease might limit his or her understanding of the dangers frigid weather presents.

They are considerable. Hypothermia occurs when a person’s core temperature drops below 95 degrees; its symptoms are skin that is not only cold but ashen. One is also apt to feel weak, tired or confused, or have trouble walking.

So it is important to dress in layers. To wear a hat and long underwear everywhere — even to bed. To don gloves and a scarf with one’s winter coat, should it be necessary to venture outside.

Footwear is particularly important. Falls are the leading cause of hospitalizations in the United States, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention four to five times more common among those age 75 and older than those between the ages of 65 and 74.

It is critical, therefore, to don boots or shoes with non-skid soles. And to be aware of sidewalk conditions before ever heading outdoors.

When You’re Sick

The CDC also reports that the elderly are particularly susceptible to the flu, because of their weakened immune systems. In recent years somewhere between 70 and 90 percent of seasonal flu-related deaths, and 50 to 70 percent of flu-related hospitalizations, occurred among those 65 and older.

Doctors therefore strongly advise that seniors get a flu vaccine — in particular the high-dose vaccine designed especially for them. It has four times more active ingredient than a regular flu shot.

For those who might contract the disease, rest and hydration are essential. It is also possible that a doctor will prescribe an antiviral medication like oseltamivir (Tamiflu), peramivir (Rapivab) or zanamivir (Relenza).

Feeling Lonely

Isolation is obviously far more prevalent among seniors who live alone, but it is not unheard of for those in skilled nursing facilities. Nine percent of the residents in one SNF who responded to a study described themselves as “always lonely,” while 26 percent said they were “sometimes lonely.”

That results in an increased risk of dementia, depression and high blood pressure. The mortality rates are higher among those who experienced feelings of isolation as well.

The solution lies in the hands of families and skilled healthcare professionals — the former by engaging with their loved ones, the latter by encouraging increased involvement with their fellow seniors.

The Allure Group, for example, offers ample opportunities for seniors to mingle, during meals, recreational activities, religious services and special events. There is no reason any resident should ever be alone, should they not want to be.

Categories: General