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Maintaining Health in the Elderly during Winter

Maintaining Health in the Elderly during Winter is essential.  No matter our age winter can be tough!  But as we get older, we can be more sensitive to acclimatising to cold weather.  This can occur for a number of reasons:

  • Older people are less physically active
  • Poor blood circulation
  • Low blood pressure
  • Thinning of the fat layer beneath the skin
  • Side effects from certain medications
  • High cholesterol and thyroid disease can contribute
  • Decrease in metabolic rate

 

Feeling cold and shivering are not the only signs to look out for!  Signs of cold sensitivity can also include:

  • Loss of co-ordination
  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness
  • Skin turning pale
  • A slower rate of breathing
  • Memory loss
  • Fatigue

 

In order to protect the health of your elderly loved one consider these tips:

  • Make an appointment with the Doctor to get the Flu injection, as Flu can progress to pneumonia in the Elderly.
  • Dress in layers rather than heavy clothing. Basic thermals such as a vest will help.
  • Warm the bed with an electric blanket (if supervised) or layer blankets rather than relying on one heavy blanket or doona.
  • Ensure the home is well insulated and retain the heat by draft proofing doors and windows.
  • Move around rather than sitting still all the time.
  • Drink warm beverages such as tea/coffee or milo and remain hydrated with water.
  • Heat a wheat pack or back/hand warmer in the microwave.
  • Eat well especially with hearty soups that contain nutrients that will help to maintain a healthy immune system.

 

It’s also important to ensure your loved one’s home is safeguarded during winter.

  • Ensure the heating works and there are no gaps or cracks that the cold wind can come through.
  • Test smoke alarms and replace batteries if necessary.
  • Ensure that there are strong and consistent artificial light sources throughout the house to avoid falls.
  • Install night lights in hallways and in the bathroom.
  • Make sure there are no extension cords protruding.

Preparation and care are key to adjusting to the winter months.

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