How to keep seniors safe this winter

Tips to keep seniors safe this winterIt’s cold outside! And as the harsh reality of winter sets in, the Michigan Office of Services to the Aging (OSA) is reminding all older Michigan residents to take a few simple steps to stay healthy, safe, and comfortable by preparing now for the frosty winter months ahead.

“Michigan’s seniors are especially vulnerable during the cold Michigan winter months. Topping the list of issues seniors are most susceptible to are influenza, hypothermia, and slips and falls,” said Kari Sederburg, Director of the OSA. “It’s important to draw attention to these risks so that every family can have a warm, safe and happy winter.”

OSA has a few tips for residents preparing for the winter:

●  Get your flu shot if you haven’t already done so. The flu can wreak havoc on older adults and anyone with a weakened immune system, respiratory issues, or heart disease.
●  Wash your hands often with soap and clean running water for at least 20 seconds. Stopping the spread of germs is especially important in the winter.
●  Bundle up to stay dry and warm. With age, the body becomes less able to respond to long exposure to very cold temperatures, sometimes resulting in hypothermia – a drop in internal body temperature – that can be fatal if not detected or treated.  When going outside, dress appropriately for comfort and safety. Wear a hat, gloves, light layers of clothing, a coat, and proper footwear.
●  For homeowners, make plans with a neighbor, friend, or family member to have porches, sidewalks, and driveways cleared of snow and ice. Falls, a concern for older persons, are more likely when ice and snow are present. Further, the strain that shoveling snow can place on the heart during cold weather increases the risk of heart attack.

While these common sense approaches will go a long way toward staying safe, comfortable, and healthy during Michigan’s cold weather months, calling 9-1-1 is almost always the fastest way to get lifesaving treatment should you need it. Emergency medical services staff can begin treatment when they arrive, up to an hour sooner than if taken to the hospital by car.

For more information or assistance, residents can contact their local Area Agency on Aging or OSA at (517) 373-8230 or www.michigan.gov/miseniors.  You can also learn more about older adult services provided by Botsford Hospital.

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