Although spring is on its way, winter is still reigning supreme in many parts of the country. While a little snow can seem magical, cold weather and icy conditions can be a hazard, especially for senior citizens. Here are three common dangers that elderly people tend to run into, and tips on avoiding the situations.
1. Home heating issues. To combat the cold, most people use home heating devices in an effort to warm up. However, these heat sources can cause a number of problems such as fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.
More house fires happen in the winter than at other times of the year partly because of these heating devices, and senior citizens are three times more likely to die or get injured in one than younger people.
To make sure your loved ones are protected from fire hazards, install a smoke alarm that will alert you to any danger. Also, be sure to give heating devices plenty of room to operate. Space heaters and wood burning stoves should be kept clear of debris that could catch on fire.
If you're burning carbon-based fuels like wood, kerosene, natural gas, coal and propane, carbon monoxide can be an issue. Install a carbon monoxide detector near your heating devices and crack a window when possible. Also, having a Bay Alarm medical alert system is a good idea in case of exposure, as your loved one will be connected to an emergency operator immediately.
2. Slips and falls. It's tough to know which surfaces pose hazards, but there are many precautionary steps you can take to ensure that ice won't be a problem for your loved ones. For example, you can make sure everyone is wearing boots or shoes with non-slip soles when they're outside. Also, try to avoid sidewalks or areas of the ground that look icy or that haven't been cleared of snow. Using handrails whenever they're available is always a good idea, and check to make sure the tip of one's cane isn't worn smooth.
3. Hypothermia. Elderly individuals are more prone to hypothermia and frostbite than younger people because they have a slower metabolism, meaning that their bodies don't produce as much heat. You can help loved ones avoid dangerous dips in body temperature by staying inside when it's very cold out and encouraging them to wear multiple layers of clothing. It also helps to keep dry, as wet clothing can quickly cause chill. If you notice someone shivering, looking very tired or breathing slowly, use a medical alarm device immediately or encourage them to do so if you're not around. The easy-to-use device can save one's life.