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Weekend Doctor

By DEBBIE HATFIELD
Wintertime can be dangerous, especially for the elderly. It is an important time to evaluate an elderly loved ones safety. Bitter cold days and slippery sidewalks can take their toll on seniors.
What you may not realize is the heat turned up in a home can cause dehydration, which can lead to confusion and an increased risk of falls. Falls are the leading cause of injury related to death for adults over the age of 65.
A few simple things can help in maintaining the safety of the elderly.
• Stock up on groceries and other items frequently needed so the temptation is not there to venture out when there are icy, slippery sidewalks.
• Arrange for someone to do the snow shoveling. Many elderly people try to do it themselves, because they know it needs done, and they do not want to bother others.
• If there is a need to leave the home, make sure there is reliable and safe transportation. If possible be sure someone accompanies them on trips. During the winter months, it is more difficult to see and more difficult to get in and out of a car.
• It is not too late to get a flu shot, as the elderly immune system is not quite as effective. Flu is most dangerous to older adults who may have other chronic medical complications.
• Frequent checks are needed, as changes in health can occur quickly. Plan a scheduled phone call or check in time.
With the colder weather of winter these recommendations can be helpful to ensure that the elderly within our community are safe.
Hatfield is a licensed social worker and licensed nursing home administrator at Birchaven Village, Findlay. Questions for Blanchard Valley Health System experts may be sent to Weekend Doctor, The Courier, P.O. Box 609, Findlay, OH 45839.

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