There are a variety of challenges that people face when the winter season hits. While it can be difficult for all ages, the hazards are magnified for those who belong to the older set. For example, familiar landscapes such as sidewalks are transformed into strange, slippery terrains.
The U.S. Center for Disease and Prevention says there were 1.9 million people over the age of 65 that were taken to the emergency room to be treated for falls in 2005. This figure demonstrates how important it is to provide elderly help especially during the wintertime.
What makes the elderly more susceptible to dangers is that there are changes that occur naturally to people as they age. Vision becomes blurred, reflexes slow down, and the body is generally unable to respond as quickly to the environment. In addition to this, the elderly are likely to be taking some kind of medication that can impact equilibrium. Examples of this are cough and cold medicines. The combination of many factors results in the danger of toppling over.
Home caregivers assigned to the elderly have to keep in mind that the best way to prevent falls is to avoid going to slippery places entirely. If it cannot be avoided, the proper shoes have to be worn. Comfortable shoes that have slip-proof soles are best. For those people who carry canes, the rubber tip has to be checked to ensure that it is still in place and is in good condition. If the tip has become worn out or has fallen off, it can slip when it comes in contact with wet or icy surfaces.
It is not just the outside places that should be guarded against. Even within the comforts of the home, there are plenty of things that can contribute to injury or even death. It is especially important to take note of these during winter because that is the season when people spend most of their time indoors.
Clutter should be removed to increase safety. Electric cords, rugs, and items on the floor should be kept out of the way. The rooms also have to be well-lighted. Remember that the elderly have difficulty adjusting to changes in light so each part of the home should have the same level of brightness.
Aside from falls, the elderly have to be protected against illnesses brought about by the cold temperatures. As the body ages, the ability to regulate body temperature becomes less effective. Thus, make the effort to keep the temperature within the home steady. According to experts, the best setting for the thermostat is 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
By: Manolito Singuillo
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