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The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow

Winter can be hard on all of us.  It is often gloomy and cold, and there is no sun to give us our daily dose of vitamin D.  Seniors, especially those living in facilities, often face emotional, physical and environmental challenges that can significantly affect their health and well-being. 

If your loved one will be spending time in a long-term care facility this winter, a few things can be done to help maintain their physical and emotional health all season long.

Fighting Depression

It can be difficult and dangerous to get around and many seniors have less contact with others during winter months.  This is a breeding ground for feelings of isolation and loneliness.

Unfortunately, many facilities are too quick to administer medication such as antidepressants and other psychotropic drugs that do little to aid the underlying problem of depression, often leaving residents overmedicated.

To help avoid these issues, family members should check in on seniors as often as possible.  Even a short, daily phone call can make a big difference.   Seniors can also arrange a check-in system with neighbors and friends, where each person looks in on one or two others daily.

Encourage your loved one to volunteer and try new activities of interest if they are able to.  Social engagement is a huge health booster and can help get them through the long winter months indoors. 

Staying Warm

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that over half of hypothermia deaths are among senior citizens.  Less active residents do not feel the temperature changes during the winter as quickly as more active residents.  That makes them a greater risk of injury as a result.  

Heat loss is associated with stiffness, increased arthritic pain, breathing difficulty, increased fall risks and slower metabolisms.  Federal Regulation 42 CFR 483.15 “Quality of Life” states that facilities initially certified after October 1990 must maintain a temperature range of 71 to 81 degrees. Long-term care facilities must maintain a climate that is both conducive to health, as well as comfort.

Make sure that your loved one has a light sweater blanket, or other covering available to them at all times. 

Dehydration

Dehydration is harmful for all age groups, but it is especially common and very serious when it happens to seniors.  While we associate dehydration with warm summer months, winter dehydration is a surprising problem. 

To stay warm during winter months, seniors often wear layers of extra clothing, which contributes to higher perspiration and dehydration.  This is often exacerbated by the dry heat coming from facility heating systems.  Residents may refrain from drinking adequate amounts of water when staff members fail to help them drink or assist them to use the restroom in a timely manner.  It is critical facilities prevent dehydration that can cause weakness or dizziness and can contribute to falls and fractures. It can also contribute to urinary tract and other infections.

If you suspect that a loved one had been the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect this winter, it is important to act now.  In the event that a facility is failing to meet the resident’s needs in a way that negatively affects their quality of life, consider speaking to the administration about your concerns.  If they fail to help or make needed changes, then contact the experienced nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys at Hupy and Abraham. If you have any questions, you can schedule a free consultation by calling 800-800-5678 or by starting a live chat anytime at Hupy.com.

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