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Health and First Aid Advice for Seniors

  • Record heat

    Heat - it's not just uncomfortable, it is dangerous.. for children and elderly especially, but for workers, too.

    Download OSHA’s heat app to stay safe on the job.

    Heat Safety Tool

    By U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

    When you're working in the heat, safety comes first. With the OSHA Heat Safety Tool, you have vital safety information available whenever and wherever you need it - right on your mobile phone.

    heat_appThe App allows workers and supervisors to calculate the heat index for their worksite, and, based on the heat index, displays a risk level to outdoor workers. Then, with a simple "click," you can get reminders about the protective measures that should be taken at that risk level to protect workers from heat-related illness-reminders about drinking enough fluids, scheduling rest breaks, planning for and knowing what to do in an emergency, adjusting work operations, gradually building up the workload for new workers, training on heat illness signs and symptoms, and monitoring each other for signs and symptoms of heat-related illness.

    Working in full sunlight can increase heat index values by 15 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep this in mind and plan additional precautions for working in these conditions.

    The OSHA Heat Tool is available in Spanish for Android and iPhone devices. To access the Spanish version on the iPhone, set the phone language setting to Spanish before downloading the app.

    Stay informed and safe in the heat, check your risk level.

    For more information about safety while working in the heat, see OSHA's heat illness webpage, including new online guidance about using the heat index to protect workers.

    ⇒    Heat & the Elderly
    ⇒    HEAT
    ⇒    Death by Heat
    ⇒    Extreme Heat and Your Health
    ⇒    Beat the Heat
    ⇒    Heat Stress – Heat Exhaustion – Heat Stroke
    ⇒    Heat and Heat Related Injuries and Illness ☀️
    ⇒    Heat Stress and Heat Related Injuries – Heat Exhaustion / Heat Stroke

  • Heat & the Elderly

    We've discussed how to keep your cool in hot weather, but what about some advice for older people on staying safe in hot weather?

    Since the risk of heat-related health problems increases with age, special considerations need be made. ☀️

    Senior-HeatAccording to the National Institutes for Health, heat fatigue, heat syncope (sudden dizziness after prolonged exposure to the heat), heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke are forms of hyperthermia, which is caused by a failure of the body’s heat-regulating mechanisms to deal with a hot environment. The combination of individual lifestyle, general health, and high temperatures can increase older adults’ risk for heat-related problems.

    There are many things that can increase risk for hyperthermia, including:

    • Dehydration
    • Age-related changes to the skin such as poor blood circulation and inefficient sweat production
    • Use of multiple medications-it is important, however, to continue to take prescribed medication and discuss possible problems with a physician.
    • Reduced sweating caused by medications such as diuretics, sedatives, tranquilizers and certain heart and blood pressure drugs
    • High blood pressure or other health conditions that require changes in diet- people on salt-restricted diets may be at increased risk, however, salt pills should not be used without first consulting a doctor.
    • Heart, lung and kidney diseases, as well as any illness that causes general weakness or fever
    • Being substantially overweight or underweight
    • Alcohol use

    For a free copy of the National Institute on Aging's Age Page on hyperthermia in English or in Spanish, contact the NIA Information Center at 1-800-222-2225 or go to https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/agepages.

  • Keep Your Cool in Hot Weather

    extreme-heatNow is the time to prepare for the high temperatures that kill hundreds of people every year. Extreme heat caused 7,415 heat-related deaths in the United States from 1999 to 2010 . Heat-related deaths and illness are preventable, yet annually many people succumb to extreme heat.

    Take measures to stay cool, remain hydrated and to keep informed. Getting too hot can make you sick. You can become ill from the heat if your body can't compensate for it and properly cool you off. The main things affecting your body's ability to cool itself during extremely hot weather are:

    • High humidity. When the humidity is high, sweat won't evaporate as quickly, which keeps your body from releasing heat as fast as it may need to.
    • Personal factors. Age, obesity, fever, dehydration, heart disease, mental illness, poor circulation, sunburn, and prescription drug and alcohol use can play a role in whether a person can cool off enough in very hot weather.
    Mature man wiping sweat from foreheadPeople age 65 and older are at high risk for heat-related illnesses.

    Those who are at highest risk include people 65 and older, children younger than two, and people with chronic diseases or mental illness.  Closely monitor people who depend on you for their care:

    • Are they drinking enough water?
    • Do they have access to air conditioning?
    • Do they need help keeping cool?

    People at greatest risk for heat-related illness can take the following protective actions to prevent illness or death:

    • Stay in air-conditioned buildings as much as possible. Contact your local health department or locate an air-conditioned shelter in your area. Air-conditioning is the number one protective factor against heat-related illness and death. If a home is not air-conditioned, people can reduce their risk for heat-related illness by spending time in public facilities that are air-conditioned, and using air conditioning in vehicles.
    • Do not rely on a fan as your primary cooling device during an extreme heat event.
    • Drink more water than usual and don't wait until you're thirsty to drink.
    • Check on a friend or neighbor and have someone do the same for you.
    • Don't use the stove or oven to cook—it will make you and your house hotter.

    Even young and healthy people can get sick from the heat if they participate in strenuous physical activities during hot weather:

    • Limit outdoor activity, especially midday when the sun is hottest.
    • Wear and reapply sunscreen as indicated on the package.
    • Pace activity. Start activities slow and pick up the pace gradually.
    • Drink more water than usual and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink more. Muscle cramping may be an early sign of heat-related illness.
    • Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.

    If you participate on a sports team that practices during hot weather protect yourself and look out for your teammates:

    • Schedule workouts and practices earlier or later in the day when the temperature is cooler.
    • Monitor a teammate’s condition, and have someone do the same for you.
    • Seek medical care immediately if you or a teammate has symptoms of heat-related illness.
    • Learn more about how to protect young athletes from heat-related illness by taking this CDC course.
    Young girl sweating and drinking waterDrink plenty of fluids to prevent heat-related illnesses.

    Everyone should take these steps to prevent heat-related illnesses, injuries, and deaths during hot weather:

    • Stay in an air-conditioned indoor location as much as possible.
    • Drink plenty of fluids even if you don't feel thirsty.
    • Schedule outdoor activities carefully.
      • Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing and sunscreen.
      • Pace yourself.
    • Take cool showers or baths to cool down.
    • Check on a friend or neighbor and have someone do the same for you.
    • Never leave children or pets in cars.
    • Check the local news for health and safety updates.
  • HEAT

    Preparing for Extreme Heat

    Here at the end of Extreme Heat Week ☀️ we want to remind you that extreme heat events can happen anywhere in the United States. Extreme heat commonly occurs in the summer; however the main season for heat waves may vary regionally.

    While heat illness may affect seniors and the very young more rapidly, it is a condition to which we are all susceptible.

    • Heat-funnyExtreme Heat Safety Tips:
      Stay indoors, especially during the warmest part of the day (typically 11 am to 2 pm), and, if at all possible, stay in an air-conditioned place. If your home does not have air conditioning or it fails, go to a public building with air conditioning such as a shopping mall, public library, or community center.
    •  Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
    •  If you must be outside, protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat (also keeps you cooler) and sunglasses and by putting on sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher. Avoid strenuous activity. If you must work, take frequent breaks.
    •  NEVER leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle.
    •  Although any one at any time can suffer from heat-related illness, some people are at greater risk than others. Check regularly on:
      o Infants and young children
      o People aged 65 or older
      o People who have a mental illness
      o Those who are physically ill, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure
    •  Get to know symptoms for heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps and sunburn and how to respond immediately.
  • Preparedness for Older Americans

    May is National Older Americans Month. It’s a great opportunity for families to discuss the needs of their parents, grandparents, and other older adult members of the family.

    Preparedness is the same no matter your age, but older Americans may want to consider adapting their personal preparedness plans because of access or functional needs, such as medication needs, hearing or vision loss, cognitive or mobility disability.

    For example, an older American may take the same actions to prepare for emergencies, including:

    Disaster-Survival-First-Aid-MartAccess alerts and warnings; While younger Americans are more likely to receive via mobile device, seniors are more likely to see on TV.
    • Assemble or update medications, batteries for hearing aids and other assistive technology needs if used on a daily basis;
    • Keep a list of all medical providers and medical information in a safe place that is easy to access if needed;
    • Document and insure property; and
    Safeguard all documents.

    Additionally, if you, someone you care for, or an older neighbor receives regular treatments from a clinic, hospital, or a home healthcare service, be sure to talk with the service provider to determine back-up plans in the event of an emergency.

    You can find more information on how older Americans prepare for emergencies online:

    Download "Information for Seniors" (PDF) or the Printer Friendly version in English and Spanish.

    Read: Seniors and Scalding Burn InjuriesSeniors and Falls, Fire Safety for Older AdultsSeniors Staying Alone: A Few Tips to Make Things Easier

    Resources from AARP: Create the Good

    Senior-Preparedness

  • Getting Enough Sleep? Part of this may be WHERE you live!

    35% of U.S. adults do not get enough sleep. Not getting enough sleep continues to be a problem in the U.S. What is fascinating is that this varies by State and Region in the US!

    Are you one of those sleep-deprived adults? 

    Here's some great information from the CDC:

    How much sleep do we need and what can happen when we're not getting enough?

    Sleep is an important part of good health.1 Sleeping less than 7 hours per night is linked to increased risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and poor mental health, as well as early death.2-4 Not getting the recommended amount of sleep can affect your ability to make good decisions and increases the chances of motor vehicle crashes.1

    According to professional sleep societies, adults aged 18 to 60 years should sleep at least 7 hours each night for the best health and wellness.5

    How much sleep are we getting?

    About 1 in 3 (an estimated 83 million) U.S. adults reported usually sleeping less than 7 hours in a 24-hour period, based on data from the 2014 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) survey that was done in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Not getting enough sleep is a problem that affects a large number of Americans. If you are not getting enough sleep, you should make sleep a priority and practice good sleep habits. You should also talk to your healthcare provider about how much sleep you get and any other sleep problems you might have.

    Does your part of the country get enough sleep?

    In the darker blue states (mostly Great Plains states), a greater percentage of adults are getting the recommended amount of sleep.

    In the lighter blue states (mostly southeastern U.S. and along the Appalachian Mountains), a lower percentage of adults are getting the recommended amount of sleep.

    Map: Age-adjusted percentage of adults who reported 7 or more hours of sleep per 24-hour period, by state - Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, United States, 2014

    Age-adjusted percentage of adults who reported 7 or more hours of sleep per 24-hour period, by state - Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, United States, 2014

    • 56.1-62.1: Hawaii, Kentucky, Maryland, Alabama, Georgia, Michigan, Indiana, South Carolina, New York, West Virginia, Ohio
    • 62.2-64.0: Delaware, Pennsylvania, Arkansas, New Jersey, Tennessee, Mississippi, Rhode Island, Louisiana, Nevada, Virginia
    • 64.1-67.0: Florida, Oklahoma, Connecticut, Alaska, Massachusetts, Illinois, Missouri, California, Arizona, Texas
    • 67.1-68.7: Maine, New Hampshire, North Carolina, District of Columbia, Wisconsin, New Mexico, North Dakota, Washington, Oregon, Wyoming
    • 68.8-71.6: Iowa, Vermont, Kansas, Utah, Montana, Idaho, Nebraska, Minnesota, Colorado, South Dakota

    Infographic: Did you get enough sleep last night 35% of adults are not getting the recommended 7 hours of sleep each night. Click to read what you can do to get more sleep.

    Who is at higher risk for not getting enough sleep?

    Everyone is at risk of not getting enough sleep, but the risk is higher for shift workers. Shift work— any shift outside normal daylight hours, such as night shift, evening shift, or rotating shift — is more common for some occupations:

    • Medical professionals (doctors and nurses)
    • Emergency response workers
    • Transportation industry workers (truck drivers)
    • Workers in the manufacturing, hospitality, or retail industries

    How can you get healthy sleep?

    Some habits that can improve your sleep health:

    • Be consistent. Go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning, including on the weekends
    • Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, relaxing, and at a comfortable temperature
    • Remove electronic devices, such as TVs, computers, and smart phones, from the bedroom
    • Avoid large meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bedtime
    • Avoid tobacco/nicotine
    • Get some exercise. Being physically active during the day can help you fall asleep more easily at night.
    Man writing in journalKeep a journal of your sleep patterns to discuss with your doctor.

    If you still have trouble sleeping, discuss your sleep with your doctor. Before your appointment, keep a 10-day sleep journal or diary to share with your doctor that includes when you:

    1. Go to bed
    2. Fall asleep
    3. Wake up
    4. Get out of bed
    5. Take naps
    6. Exercise
    7. Drink alcohol
    8. Consume caffeine-containing beverages

    If you have symptoms of a sleep disorder, such as snoring or being very sleepy during the day after a full night's sleep, make sure to tell your doctor.

    References

    1. Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Sleep Medicine and Research; Colten HR, Altevogt BM, editors. Sleep Disorders and Sleep Deprivation: An Unmet Public Health Problem. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2006.
    2. Grandner MA, Chakravorty S, Perlis ML, Oliver L, Gurubhagavatula I. Habitual sleep duration associated with self-reported and objectively determined cardiometabolic risk factors. Sleep Med 2014;15:42–50.
    3. Liu Y, Wheaton AG, Chapman DP, Croft JB. Sleep duration and chronic diseases among US adults age 45 years and older: evidence from the 2010 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. Sleep 2013;36:1421–1427.
    4. Gallicchio L, Kalesan B. Sleep duration and mortality: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Sleep Res 2009;18:148–158.
    5. Watson NF, Badr MS, Belenky G, Bliwise DL, Buxton OM, Buysse D, et al. Joint consensus statement of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society on the recommended amount of sleep for a healthy adults: methodology and discussion. Sleep 2015; 38(8):1161–1183.
  • Fire Safety for Older Adults

    Fires are a serious risk in colder seasons - and even more so for older adults and children - We have talked about many safety concerns for seniors, including Seniors and Scalding Burn InjuriesHelping to prevent falling at homeSeniors Staying Alone and special Winter Dangers for Seniors.

    Seniors-FireNow let's take a look at how home firs risks may be a little different for the elderly:

    According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), older adults – ages 65 and older – are more likely to be injured during a fire.

    It is important that older adults and their caregivers take steps to protect themselves from a fire in their home.

    USFA has safety recommendations for older adults and their caregivers, which may include:

    • Have a smoke alarm that works for you and the functional needs that you have.  For example, many smoke alarms have lower decibel ranges for those who are hard of hearing. Others may have smoke alarms with strobes or separate bed shaker. There are also smoke alarms with long-lasting batteries for someone with a mobility disability or vision loss.
    • Have conversations with household members, caregivers and friends about your fire safety plan.  Develop and test an escape plan that works for you and your household if you live in a single family home.  If you live in multi-level housing such as an apartment or high-rise building, know your evacuation plan.
    • Take in consideration any additional items you may need to take with you quickly. For example, keep any devices such as wheelchairs, canes, eyeglasses and hearing aids in a consistent place so you can get out quickly;

    For more information about how to protect older adults in your family or community, visit the USFA website.

    Fire emergencies and the need to evacuate go hand in hand. Being able to safely and efficiently vacate the premises is imperative to your health and survival. Our fire evacuation supplies offer the tools needed to cautiously and successfully leave the vicinity and should be readily available in every home as well as private and public business buildings.
  • Zika Scare

    There's a lot of hype around the Zika Virus, and just like when everyone was panicking over Ebola last year, there'a a lot of media exaggeration, social rumor, and misinformation out there.

    What is Zika? Zika virus disease exhibits symptoms including fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon.

    Is it dangerous? Yes. Primarily in that it causes serious risk to unborn children, including Guillain-Barré syndrome and pregnant women giving birth to babies with birth defects and poor pregnancy outcomes.

    How do you avoid Zika Virus? Both the CDC and WHO recommend EPA approved insect repellents to repel mosquitoes as they are the main carrier of the disease.

    Other point for Zika prevention from the CDC:

    • No vaccine exists to prevent Zika virus disease (Zika).
    • Prevent Zika by avoiding mosquito bites (see below).
    • Mosquitoes that spread Zika virus bite mostly during the daytime.
    • Mosquitoes that spread Zika virus also spread dengue and chikungunya viruses.

    When traveling to countries where Zika virus or other viruses spread by mosquitoes are found, take the following steps:

    • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
    • Stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
    • Sleep under a mosquito bed net if you are overseas or outside and are not able to protect yourself from mosquito bites.
    • insectrepellents-animatedUse Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents. When used as directed, EPA-registered insect repellents are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breast-feeding women.
      • Always follow the product label instructions
      • Reapply insect repellent as directed.
      • Do not spray repellent on the skin under clothing.
      • If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen before applying insect repellent.
    • If you have a baby or child:
      • Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months of age.
      • Dress your child in clothing that covers arms and legs, or
      • Cover crib, stroller, and baby carrier with mosquito netting.
      • Do not apply insect repellent onto a child’s hands, eyes, mouth, and cut or irritated skin.
      • Adults: Spray insect repellent onto your hands and then apply to a child’s face.
    • Treat clothing and gear with permethrin or purchase permethrin-treated items.
      • Treated clothing remains protective after multiple washings. See product information to learn how long the protection will last.
      • If treating items yourself, follow the product instructions carefully.
      • Do NOT use permethrin products directly on skin. They are intended to treat clothing.

     Interesting related readingWhat is DEET? Is it Safe?World Mosquito DayThe Best Way to Stop Bug Bites according to Consumer ReportsChoose Your Cover,

  • Cooking Safety for Older Adults

    After Children, Seniors are the group that suffer the most scald injuries and Emergency Room visits resultant thereof. For Burn Awareness Week, we'd like to share some Kitchen Tips for avoiding these painful and dangerous burns:Cooking

    DO:

    • Use oven mitts, not towels, to handle hot pots and pans
    • Use caution when cooking with grease – keep burner on a low to medium setting and keep a pan lid in reach
    • Make sure smoke alarms are in place on each level of your home and replace batteries every 6 months
    • Have an escape plan if fire breaks out in the home – “two ways out” should always be available
    • Have Burn First Aid Supplies, or a Burn First Aid Kit in the Kitchen

     

    DON'T:

    • Wear clothing with loose or large sleeves while cooking
    • Leave food cooking on the stove unattended
    • Pour water on a grease fire – use a lid to smother the flames
    • Cook when you are sleepy or have taken medications that make you drowsy
    • Ever heat your home using the warmth from a kitchen oven or stove

    The fact is that Older Adults are at higher risk of suffering an injury from burns. Adults ages 65+ are twice as likely to die in home fires, and Adults 85+ years are four times more likely to die from a burn injury.

    If a burn injury does happen...

    1. Cool the burn with COOL (not cold, and never ice) water to stop the burning process
    2. Remove all clothing and jewelry from the injured area
    3. Apply an FDA approved burn remedy if available, but never a greasy or oily ointment, nor any "home remedies" like butter which can seal in the heat, and create more damage
    4. Cover the area with clean dry sheet or bandages
    5. Seek medical attention
  • Seniors and Scalding Burn Injuries

    Aside from perception and mobility hazards, older adults can be at greater risk of scald burn injuries, as poor microcirculation can also cause deeper and more serious burns.

    For Burn Awareness Week, we would like to share some precautions to take to help reduce burn and scald injuries in Seniors:

    Senior~ Older adults may have conditions that make them more prone to falls in the bathtub, shower, or while carrying hot liquids. Provide a bell or whistle for people who may need assistance to call for help while bathing and install grab bars and non-slip mats. Older adults (and people with certain medical conditions) may not be able to escape scalding water on their own. Provide a way for them to call for help, especially in the bathroom

    ~ Mobility impairments, slow or awkward movements, muscle weakness, fatigue, or slower reflexes increase the risk of spills and burns.

    ~ Moving hot liquids can be extremely difficult for someone who uses a cane or walker.

    ~ Certain medications can decrease a person’s ability to feel heat and they may burn themselves without knowing. Sensory impairments, changes in a person’s perception, memory, judgment, or awareness may hinder their ability to recognize burn dangers.

    ~ Tablecloths can also become tangled in crutches, walkers, or wheelchairs. Use non-slip placemats instead of tablecloths.

    ~ Burns on the lap are common when a person attempts to carry hot liquids while seated in a wheelchair. Use a large sturdy serving tray with raised edges to transfer food from the stove to the table if you or someone have mobility impairments or are unsteady or shaky.

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