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Oh-So-Cold Temperatures Plague Older People
Date:1/25/2009

  • Know the signs of frostbite, which include: skin that's white, ashy or grayish-yellow; skin that feels hard or waxy; and numbness.
  • And again, call 911 if you think you or someone else might have frostbite.

    Falls are another danger for older adults that become more of an issue during the winter months.

    To reduce the risk of falls:

    • Carefully shovel steps and walkways to your home or hire someone to shovel for you.
    • Don't walk on icy or snowy sidewalks. Look for walkways that are dry and have been cleared.
    • Wear boots with non-skid soles.
    • If you use a cane, replace the rubber tip before it's worn smooth. It may be a good idea to use an ice-pick-like attachment that fits on the end of the cane. These are available at medical supply stores.

    The Foundation for Health in Aging also urges older adults to be cautious about shoveling snow. Cold weather puts extra strain on the heart, and the strain of shoveling could be too much for the heart, especially if you have heart disease. Shoveling can also be dangerous for people with osteoporosis.

    Older adults should ask their doctor if it's safe for them to shovel or do other hard work in cold weather.

    More information

    The U.S. National Institute on Aging has more about staying safe in cold weather.



    -- Robert Preidt



    SOURCE: American Geriatrics Society, news release, January 2009


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