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Winter Full of Risks for Seniors

Now that winter has rolled into town, senior citizens should be on their guard.

Because of the cold weather, ice and flu season, winter is the most dangerous time of the year for older people. Doctors at the Johns Hopkins Geriatrics Center treat many more accidental injuries during the winter than other times of the year, says Dr. Bruce Leff, an associate professor of medicine at the center.

"Whenever we see a big snowstorm in Baltimore, we know that soon we will get some patients with hip fractures," Leff says.

To avoid slipping and sliding on the ice, seniors should walk carefully, even if they don't see ice, and consider using a cane or walker, he says. Those with greater risk of severe hip injury after a fall should consider wearing hip pads.

The rest of us should "use common sense" in making the winter easier for seniors with mobility problems, Leff says. Plowing and salting walkways is essential. Those who live with seniors should keep pathways clear in the house.

"In winter, many more clothes and stuff come out of the closet. Shoes are everywhere, and that could be a problem," he says.

The cold weather during the winter is also dangerous for people with emphysema or those who take certain medications that can inhibit their ability to handle temperature changes. Because of the general risk of hypothermia during extended exposure to cold, seniors should stay warm.

Another serious winter risk for seniors is the flu virus. Because influenza can lead to more serious conditions in older people, Leff advises all seniors to get a flu shot.

More information

The Illinois Department of Aging has these tips for seniors during the dangerous winter months.

Reference Source 101


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