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Q: Are there tips for senior citizens during the winter?

Posted February 05, 2014 in Advice Column, Ames

A: Many senior citizens travel to warmer areas during the winter, but others must deal with the conditions here no matter how cold it becomes. They are the most at risk of becoming injured or ill during the wintertime, so should consider the following: Hypothermia can cause the body temperature to drop, often to a dangerous level. Hypothermia can be fatal, so be aware of the symptoms:  excessive shivering, confusion, sleepiness, loss of energy, cold, ashy or pale skin, slow breathing rate and reduced heart rate.

Frostbite is a condition where exposed skin is damaged. If the damage goes all the way to the bone, it can lead to a loss of limbs. The most affected areas of the body are the ears, nose, cheeks, fingers and toes. Wear layers of clothing when going outdoors. Return indoors immediately if your skin starts to turn red, turns dark or begins to ache.

Senior citizens often become injured attempting to handle outdoor chores themselves. Hire a professional to care for the property rather than risk injury. It is also best for anyone who walks with a cane to modify it to help increase stability. Adding a metal grip to the bottom of the cane could reduce the chances of slipping on patches of ice or snow.

Remove shoes immediately after outdoors. When the snow melts, it leaves puddles of water which are slippery and could cause a fall and injury. A bench or chair nearby to sit to remove your shoes is helpful.

Senior citizens are the most vulnerable during winter. A little assistance from the friendly caregivers of At-Home Care Company can help.

Information provided by Joan Ingwersen, owner, At-Home Care Company LLC, 113 Colorado Ave. Ames, 515-292-2650.

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