Posts Tagged ‘retirement community plainfield’

Baby, it’s cold outside

Although the fall weather has been gloriously moderate, one can be certain that cold weather is on the way. It is important to remember that the cold temperatures of winter are especially dangerous for older adults. Seniors may not be able to feel that they are getting too cold, or they may set their thermostats low to save on heating costs.

A drop in body temperature is called hypothermia (hi-po-ther-mee-uh), and it can be deadly if not treated quickly. Hypothermia can happen anywhere, not just outside and not just in northern states. In fact, some older people can have a mild form of hypothermia if the temperature in their home is too cool.

When you think about being cold, you probably think of shivering. That is one way the body stays warm when it gets cold. But, shivering alone does not mean you have hypothermia.

So how do you know if someone has hypothermia? According to the National Institute on Aging, look for the umbles” – stumbles, mumbles, fumbles, and grumbles. These may be clues that the cold is a problem.

Check for:

  • Confusion or sleepiness
  • Slowed, slurred speech, or shallow breathing
  • Weak pulse
  • Change in behavior or in the way a person looks
  • A lot of shivering or no shivering; stiffness in the arms or legs
  • Poor control over body movements or slow reactions

According to gericarefinder.com, during each cold weather month, many seniors die from hypothermia.

Wearing more clothes and proper cold-weather attire are necessary for aging adults. Indoors, many seniors may require an extra blanket or thicker socks.

To prevent hypothermia (very low body temperature), a dangerous and potentially life-threatening condition,  ), read these tips offered by the National Institute on Aging:

  • Ask your doctor if you have any health conditions or take any medications that make it hard for your body to stay warm. At increased risk are older people who take certain medications, drink alcohol, lack proper nutrition and have conditions such as arthritis, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
  • Set your thermostat above 65 degrees; older people are at higher risk of becoming ill during the cold winter months.
  • Try to stay away from cold places. Changes in your body that come with aging can make it harder to feel when you are getting cold. It also may be harder for your body to warm itself.
  • Wear several layers of loose clothing indoors and out. The layers will trap warm air between them. Tight clothing can keep your blood from flowing freely, which can lead to loss of body heat. Hypothermia can occur in bed, so wear warm clothing to bed and use blankets.
  • Ask friends or neighbors to look in once or twice a day if you live alone. Your area may offer a telephone check-in or personal visit service.
  • Use alcohol moderately, if at all. Avoid alcohol altogether near bedtime.
  • Eat hot foods and drink hot liquids to raise your body temperature and keep warm.
  • Keep aware of the daily weather forecast and be sure to dress warmly enough, with hat and gloves, if you must go out. In extremely low temperatures with wind-chill factors, weather forecasters may suggest staying inside.
  • Make sure you eat enough food to keep up your weight. If you don’t eat well, you might have less fat under your skin, and fat can help protect you by keeping heat in your body. Also, drink 10 glasses of water or other non-alcoholic liquids daily.

And remember, spring will eventually come. Promise.

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Would seniors in Plainfield rather do sit-ups or dance?

Dancing at the Timbers of Shorewood“There are short-cuts to happiness, and dancing is one of them.” ~Vicki Baum.

Ms. Baum is right. Dancing also can be a short-cut to health – both physically and mentally. According to Brain Fitness For Seniors.com, dancing is a boon to health because it stimulates different areas of the brain. How? Well, it often requires learning new steps, and it keeps seniors connected to others. It involves balance, coordination, listening, rhythm, motion, emotions, and physical touch.

Present day seniors grew up dancing. There were grand, lavish ballrooms, and people in cities took the streetcars to dance the night away. Ballroom dancing was a popular choice for a date. Big Band orchestras under the batons of Tommy Dorsey or Harry James toured the country playing in these wonderful ballrooms.

Today’s seniors are still dancing. Seniors’ dances are everywhere, and there are even exercise classes of “seated” dancing. If an entertainer performs the “old favorites” at a senior center or assisted living community, the audience instantly responds with toe-tapping and probably a rush of memories.

Health-wise, a dance routine for older adults can improve fitness in a low-impact way. More specifically, the physical benefits of dance from Ehow.com include:

  • Improves cardiovascular fitness – Even light dancing will increase the heart rate and give the heart a good workout.
  • Builds muscles – Through dance, seniors work their muscles and help to combat the effects of age.
  • Improves social outlook – By joining a dance class—no matter what type of dance—they can enjoy the company of being with other dancers.
  • Increases balance and control – The improved balance that comes from dancing helps prevent slips and falls.
  • Increases bone mass – Both men and women begin to lose bone mass as they age, leading to more broken bones when they fall.
  • Improves flexibility – A good dance workout will include stretching time which can help senior citizens increase flexibility and reduce muscle aches.

Again, from Brain Fitness For Seniors.com, by improving the social interactivity of seniors, dancing increases social harmony, understanding and tolerance in the community which is important because aging requires people of sometimes diverse backgrounds to live closer together in retirement homes and communities.

Music and rhythm have measurable effects on the brain and are the subject of multiple studies of brain-fitness benefits in both the young and old. Listening to music itself can have clear effects on the brain, stimulating different areas, changing brainwave patterns, and relieving stress.

Some believe that just watching dance stimulates the brain – mental stimulation that may be almost as powerful as performing the activity first hand. Even seniors who are too physically restricted to move freely can still participate and gain brain fitness benefits from social dance groups.

In summary, the lyrics of country music star Lee Ann Womack’s signature song say it all:

“I hope you still feel small when you stand behind the ocean.
I hope whenever one door closes, another opens.
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance,
and when you get the choice to sit it out or dance…
I Hope You Dance.”

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