Baby, it’s cold out there

Last summer a farmer told a city girl that, by all the signs of nature, there wasn’t going to be a harsh winter. Woolly worms were brown in the middle and black at each end or only brown, or a combination of the colors that suggested a mild winter. Since just before Christmas it has been frigid with a few warm days sprinkled in, just enough mild days to set in motion a craving for spring with winter well behind.

The weather guys and gals have warned that February will continue our arctic trend. When I look out the front door and see that a neighbor has cleared the snow from our walk, I am first thankful that they were so considerate of us and then I flinch at the reminder that we’re not 30 years old anymore. Like you, I don’t feel “old.”

What is “elderly” or “old”? Some folks say you are only as old as you feel. Some days that could be 18 or 40. Other days, 90. But about age 40 things begin to change. The senses aren’t as sharp as they used to be. Maybe you need a little help with vision. Eyeglasses with hidden lines are pretty nice. At some point you begin to realize – or someone tells you – you aren’t hearing so well. Today’s hearing aids are not as noticeable and it’s pretty nice to hear what your grandchildren are saying to you. Maybe your sniffer doesn’t work so well, or your taste buds. Your body is getting some miles on it now and you just have to accept that some things just are. And maybe age is a little bit more than a feeling, not a number.

Getting back to the weather … older people feel temperature differently than younger people. It’s harder to tell how the cold is affecting them. They may require a little assistance.

FEMA recommends:

— Check in with older family members, friends and neighbors to make sure they are safe and well.

–Prevent falls by clearing ice and snow, using salt, ice melt, sand or cat litter on ice. Older people should wear boots with no-skid soles, and leave shoveling snow to younger people, especially if they have heart problems.

–Hypothermia is an issue. It occurs when they get too cold. In adults, the following signs may be noticed: confusion, drowsiness, exhaustion, fumbling hands, memory loss, shivering, and slurred speech. In infants, the skin is bright red and cold, and the baby has very low energy. If the person’s body temperature drops below 95 degrees F., immediate medical attention is needed.

–The indoor temperature should be at least 55 degrees F., according to FEMA, but another source recommends 68 degrees F. inside, and eliminate cold air leaks.

–If the older person is going outside, they should dress in two or three layers of loose-fitting clothing to help them stay warm.

–If you don’t have to go outside when it’s very cold, don’t.

Ground Hog Day is behind us. Spring will be here in about six weeks. Take care of yourself and the older people in your life. We’re almost there.

Addiction has no address, but Family Recovery Center does. For more information about the education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related behavioral issues, contact the agency at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, info@familyrecovery.org. FRC is funded, in part, by United Way of Northern Columbiana County and gifts and donations.

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