Some tips to survive the winter |  Community

Some tips to survive the winter | Community

Last week there were 75 days until spring. Now it’s 67 days.

Yes, I still check every now and then. One thing is for sure, spring is coming here. Sometimes I feel like a child waiting for Christmas.

Last week was tough for all of us. Not only was the temperature well below average, but we had to deal with snow and ice.

For me, I almost became a hostage in my own house. It honestly seems to me that the older I get, the colder I get.

The fact is that winter is difficult for everyone. Older adults are particularly vulnerable to complications from winter weather. Hopefully you can get through the winter unscathed if you just follow some simple suggestions.

Hopefully these tips will help you get through the next 67 days.

Let’s first look at why you seem to get colder as you get older. You will probably notice some changes in your body as you get older. We all want a wrinkle or two and that stray gray hair that pops up on a regular basis.

It’s all part of the normal aging process.

You may have noticed that you need a few extra layers of clothing when you go for a walk. Or maybe you keep your thermostat at a higher temperature.

Aging can cause many changes in our bodies, including an increased sensitivity to cold. Your metabolism slows down. It is normal for your metabolism to decline and your body’s reaction to the cold to change.

Certain body receptors may not work as quickly to tell your blood vessels to contract and maintain your body temperature.

Also, the fat under your skin starts to get thinner. This fat layer retains body heat, so you are more likely to get cold when it starts to get thin.

Your blood vessels also lose elasticity. When your blood vessels are not as flexible, your circulation decreases. When your blood is not circulating normally, it is harder for your body to keep warm.

This can make our hands and feet feel cold.

There is one thing you need to be aware of if you are feeling colder than usual. There are certain health conditions that can cause you to feel colder, so do not hesitate to talk to your doctor, just to rule out any conditions that may affect your sensitivity to cold.

You may want to contact your doctor if your symptoms are new, your symptoms get worse, you feel cold when others are feeling well, or if the feeling of cold affects your daily activities.

Now let’s look at the snow and ice we had last week. Ice-cold, snow-covered roads and sidewalks make it easy to slip and fall.

According to the National Institutes of Health, more than 1.6 million elderly Americans go to the emergency room each year for fall-related injuries. One of the main causes of falls is ice.

It seems simple enough not to walk through snow and stay away from areas covered in ice; but when temperatures drop rapidly, black ice can form without warning.

To reduce the risk of a fall in cold weather, stretch before going outside. Stretching improves circulation and stiff muscles in the limbs.

Be careful with footwear. Make sure you have non-slip soles with a low heel and adequate support. If possible, install handrails that will provide support to help you maintain your balance.

Shoveling snow can be a major health risk. Working in the cold increases your heart rate. The combination of cold temperatures and physical work means your heart has to work harder.

Shoveling snow can put you at a higher risk of a heart attack. If it is absolutely necessary to get some snow removed, make sure someone clears the snow for you.

Protecting your skin is another winter tip that seniors should pay special attention to. As we age, our skin becomes thinner and drier, and thus more likely to get tears. Certain medications can wreak havoc on the lining of your nasal passages, creating an increased risk of nosebleeds.

And the heat in your house will make the air dry. Keep the dangers of dryness low by using a humidifier to keep your air moist, drink plenty of water and eat foods with high water content like soups and vegetables, and moisturize your skin daily with creams and lotions.

Another tip is to use a saline nasal spray to keep the inside of your nose moist.

Make sure your closet is well stocked with staples and non-perishable items. Make sure you have enough medicine for several days. This way, if there is snow or if the power goes out, you will have enough supplies to hold until conditions improve.

If you use an electric blanket, be very careful. Be sure to turn it off in the morning. Do not put anything on the rug. Do not turn it on high as it may cause burns.

Do not plug it into an extension cord. Replace the carpet if the cord is pulled out or does not work properly.

If you use a wood or gas fireplace or even lanterns, make sure you have a carbon monoxide detector installed and make sure it is in good condition.

If you use a space heater, never connect it to an extension cord. Nothing should ever be placed close to them. They should not be placed on a thick blanket.

Replace them if they do not work properly.

Stay warm. Older adults have a higher risk of hypothermia in cold weather. Your body temperature may drop when you are in the cold for a long time because it starts to lose heat quickly.

Older adults have an increased risk of hypothermia due to changes that happen to your body with aging. Keep your indoor temperature at least 65 degrees or warmer. Dress smart. Dress in layers.

When outside, wear a hat, gloves or mittens, winter coat, boots and a scarf to cover your mouth and nose. If you have problems with your heating or paying your heating bill, call 211, Tennessee’s local helpline.

They will give you numbers and addresses of places where you can get help.

Fight the flu and COVID. Because the immune system weakens with age, seniors are particularly vulnerable to these viruses. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that as many as 90% of seasonal influenza deaths occur in people over 65 years of age.

Influenza and COVID vaccines offer a simple yet effective way to protect yourself from these viruses. Although both vaccines will not protect you 100% from getting sick, your symptoms may be much less severe if you have been given the vaccine.

I have heard from some people that they will not get flu shot because it will give them flu. This is not the case.

The vaccine contains dead viruses that can not give you the flu. If someone gets sick right after taking the vaccine, then they had already been exposed to the flu when they took the shot.

We can not prevent Mother Nature from sending us winter weather, but we can do ourselves a great favor and be prepared when it happens. Do not wait for bad weather to keep the communication lines open.

Call and check out your friends, family and neighbors. A quick call can just save someone’s life.

We have a mitten in the center. It will be decorated with hats, scarves, mittens and gloves that will be taken to Mountain View Elementary School for those kids who need winter accessories. Please call the center if you want to donate to the tree.

We would very much like you to participate in some activities here at the Etowah Senior Center. There is never a charge for any of our programs. The following are some activities in the coming week.

• January 14 – 9.30, exercise hour; 10.00, Bingo with Caris Health Care; 11:00, Prayer activities for National Bean Day

• January 18 – 9.30, exercise hour; 10:00, Bingo with Hospice of Chattanooga; 11.00, Craft class with hats

• January 19 – 9.30, exercise hour; 10.00, Bingo with United Health Care; 11.00, bible study with Les Coomer

Sue Walker is the CEO of the Etowah Area Senior Citizens Center. She can be contacted by calling 423-781-7632.

Sue Walker is the CEO of the Etowah Area Senior Citizens Center. She can be contacted by calling 423-781-7632.


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