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Home Care Winter Tips 3: Older People Fall More Often. Ice Makes it Worse.

By Peter DiMaria

We all know that icy pavements and roads can be extremely slippery. OK, dad and mom have lived in New England all their lives and have been through so many cold, snowy winters. Why should you care?

Here’s why: falls are the leading cause of accidental death and injury in people over 65 years old in the United States. Each year, around one third of them fall. The ice can only make things worse. And, while younger people often recover relatively quickly from such injuries, older adults face complications.

They should take extra care if they go out, and wear boots or shoes with good grip on the soles. Bear in mind that black ice on pavements or roads might not be clearly visible, and compacted snow may turn to ice and become slippery.

Some precautions to take:

-             Make sure steps and walkways are clear before they go outside for a walk. Be especially careful if there are wet pavements that could be iced over.

-             Clear away snow and salt the walkways at home, or hire someone to do it.

-             They should wear boots with non-skid soles to prevent them from slipping.

-             If they use a cane, replace the rubber tip before it is worn smooth.

-             Consider an ice pick-like attachment that fits onto the end of the cane for additional traction.

Another thing to watch for is frostbite, if the weather gets too cold. It is important to bundle up before going outside, with gloves, hats and a thick scarf. Fingers, toes, nose, and ears should be checked after being exposed to cold weather, to see if they are numb or turned white.

Shoveling snow

Shoveling know can be dangerous for seniors who want to live independently

It’s one thing everybody hates about winter: snow shoveling. For elderly people, the best is to contract help from a company or ask a neighbor to do it. If they do choose to shovel, just make sure you take some precautions.

When it’s cold outside, the heart works harder to keep you warm. Strenuous activities like shoveling snow may put too much strain on the heart, especially if there is already some sort of heart disease. Shoveling can also be very dangerous if the person has problems with balance or has “thin bones”, which are also common in old age.

Emergency alert systems

A good idea to keep your loved ones safer, living independently, at home, are the so called Medical Alert Systems. The concept is simple. A small device placed with the client 24 hours a day allows him or her to push a button and immediately contact our 24 hours care response team. We then contact a relative or call 911 to provide immediate assistance. No wonder, it has saved lives!

Our line of Direct Link medical alert systems offers a number of options, differentiated for each type of need our clients should have. Our mobile unit for home use, for example, is equipped with a fall sensor. In the case the clients fall unconscious or unable to push the button, the care unit will call them instead. In case of need, help will be provided.

Having a conversation

Most people want to continue to live independently, as they age. To do that, sometimes help is necessary. However, quite often they will not accept that. “I don’t need help”, “I have always done this and I can do it”, “I have family” or “I don’t want strangers in my house” are some of the common phrases we hear, when family members try to bring external help when time get difficult.

In these situations, it is important to have an open conversation about what is going on. If you try to impose on them, saying “you need help”, the mood can turn confrontational and nothing will be achieved.

The best way to approach this problem is to ask open questions, to help them to realize it on their own.

For example:
- How often do you shovel snow from the walkway?
- Is it getting harder to walk on slippery ice?
- Is it difficult to take out the trash when the weather is bad?
- Are you being able to run your errands in the bad days?

With these types of questions you can open the conversation and, eventually, get them to realize that they actually need help.

Click here to learn more about Home Helpers care services.

Click here to know our Medical Alert Systems line Direct Link.

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Home Care Winter Tips 2: Eight Signs of Hypothermia