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Seasonal Safety Tips for Older Adults
Date:12/31/2007

Some seniors have a hard time coping with winter's chill, experts warn

MONDAY, Dec. 31 (HealthDay News) -- Older adults should take additional precautions to preserve their health and safety during winter, according to the American Geriatric Society's Foundation for Health in Aging.

The foundation has released a checklist of safety steps seniors can take to avoid the ill effects of colder weather.

Hypothermia, frostbite, falls, injury while shoveling snow, carbon-monoxide poisoning and driving accidents are on the list of dangers to look out for.

The foundation reminds older adults to dress for the weather. As people age, metabolisms slow and produce less body heat, but older adults may still have a hard time determining whether they are feeling the chill, says the foundation. Wearing two or three layers of loose-fitting clothing, as well as a hat, mittens, a coat, boots and a scarf to provide cover for the face are among the group's suggestions.

Older adults should stay indoors when it's very cold outside, especially if it is windy and wet. The foundation recommends keeping the thermostat indoors set to at least 65 degrees Fahrenheit.

Hypothermia is a condition in which the core body temperature drops to unhealthy levels. It can be fatal. The warning signs of hypothermia include: lots of shivering; cold skin that is pale or ashy; feeling very tired, confused and sleepy; feeling weak; problems walking; slowed breathing or heart rate. Unfortunately, older people do not shiver as much as they used to, so it is best to look for other warning signs, according to foundation recommendations.

Frostbite may also result from exposure to cold weather. Nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers and toes are all at risk. Keep an eye out for skin that is turning red or darkening and beginning to hurt. That's a sign to go inside. When skin is already frostbitten, it is often white, ashy or yellowish and fe
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