-- Robert Preidt
SATURDAY, Jan. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Winter brings special
challenges for elderly people and they need to be aware of these
issues and take steps to protect themselves, an expert says.
Seniors need to get a flu shot, especially if they have a
chronic lung condition such as emphysema. It's not too late and flu
shots are available as late as March, said Dr. Michael Lucchesi,
chair of emergency medicine at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in
Congestive heart failure is another common issue and "some
people are a few potato chips away" from worsening the condition,
according to Lucchesi. Patients should avoid salty foods, follow
their dietary restrictions, avoid overindulging in food and drink,
and plan ahead so that their prescriptions don't run out over the
Cold temperatures can be dangerous. Seniors with respiratory
conditions are particularly sensitive to cold air, which can cause
spasms in the lungs. Elderly people should limit the amount of time
they spend outside in the winter and limit the amount of skin
exposed to the cold. Even the neck and face can lose heat and put
seniors at risk for hypothermia. Some medications can also cause
the body to lose heat, Lucchesi warned.
Winter-related injuries are another issue. For example, snow
shoveling can lead to back injury and even a heart attack. Slips
and falls are another danger. Seniors should take small steps, wear
sensible shoes and hold onto railings when going down steps.
It's a good idea to call your doctor's office to find out when
it's open during the holidays. Get prescriptions filled in advance.
These steps may help prevent the need to go to an emergency
department, Lucchesi said.
The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency offers more
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