Department on Aging warns seniors to prepare homes and get flu shots
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[December 03, 2008]
SPRINGFIELD -- To prepare for
this year's cold winter weather, Illinois Department on Aging
Director Charles D. Johnson urges older people and their families to
recognize that winter poses a special threat to seniors. Topping the
winter "to do" list should be to get a flu shot to protect against
the flu, formally called influenza. The flu season usually runs from
November until April.
"People 50 and older are considered most at risk, and an annual
flu shot is strongly recommended," Johnson said. "I hope that older
people and those who care for them will take practical moves now in
anticipation of the cold weather ahead. We're recommending tips for
preparing your home, as well as preventative health care."
Older people are advised to set their thermostats to above 65
degrees. Seniors who lower the thermostat to reduce heating bills
risk developing hypothermia, a potentially fatal condition in which
the body temperature drops dangerously low. At increased risk are
older people who take certain medications, drink alcohol, lack
proper nutrition, and who have conditions such as arthritis, stroke,
Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease.
It's important to
have the furnace checked to be sure that it is in good shape and
heating ducts are properly ventilated. Proper ventilation is also a
concern if you use alternative heat from a fireplace, wood stove or
space heater. If you use heating oil, be sure that you have enough.
Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich's annual Keep Warm campaign helps seniors
who have difficulty paying their heating bills. Seniors, disabled
individuals and families with small children are encouraged to apply
for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, known as LIHEAP.
A network of 35 local Community Action agencies around the state is
currently accepting applications. For a complete listing of LIHEAP's
local agencies and additional information about the grant program,
www.liheapillinois.com or call the toll-free
Keep Warm Illinois
line at 1-877-411-WARM (9276).
In preparation for cold weather, seniors are encouraged to:
Dress in layers,
both indoors and outdoors.
Keep active. Make
a list of exercises and activities to do indoors when you can't
Eat well and drink
10 glasses of water every day. Stock up on extra nonperishable
food supplies, just in case.
medications in the house. If this is not possible, make
arrangements now to have your medications delivered.
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Have your house
winterized. Be sure that walls and attics are insulated. Caulk
and weatherstrip doors and windows. Insulate pipes near outer
walls, in crawl spaces and attics that are susceptible to
Make sure you and
your family know how to shut off the water supply in case pipes
vehicle for winter. Check wipers, tires, lights and fluid levels
regularly. Keep a windshield scraper and small broom for ice and
snow removal. Maintain at least a half tank of gas during the
winter season. Plan long trips carefully and travel by daylight
with at least one other person.
fire. If you don't have a fire extinguisher, buy one. Make sure
space heaters are at least three feet from anything flammable.
Do not overload extension cords.
Do not shovel snow or walk in deep
snow. Plan now for someone else to shovel the snow. The strain
from the cold and hard labor could cause a heart attack;
sweating can lead to a chill and even hypothermia.
For more information about program services to assist older
adults in Illinois and their caregivers, call the Department on
Aging Senior HelpLine at 1-800-252-8966 or, for hearing-impaired use
only, call TTY 1-888-206-1327.
Department on Aging file received from
Illinois Office of
Communication and Information]