Every year, 6.8 million Americans donate 13.6 million units of whole blood and red blood cells. This life-saving resource helps treat a wide variety of injuries, from car crashes to childbirth. 13.6 million units may sound like a lot, but the need is always great. COVID-19 has caused a critical blood shortage as people have been more hesitant to donate. Every two seconds, someone in America needs a donation of blood or platelets. With high demand and higher stakes, it’s never been more important to donate blood. As January is National Blood Donors Month, senior blood donations could make an important difference.
Many seniors might think they’re too old to donate blood safely. However, as long as you don’t have severe medical conditions, there’s no reason you can’t donate blood at any age. With the senior population increasing, it will be even more critical for senior blood donations to continue donating blood in the coming years. The COVID-19 vaccine provides hope for a less-restricted future, but in the meantime, blood donation agencies are still doing all they can to ensure donors stay safe from the disease.
Donating Blood Saves Lives
To know why donating blood is so important, look at the testimonials from people who received donations. Blood transfusions have saved the lives of trauma victims, cancer patients, people with chronic diseases, and more. Because doctors must use red blood cells within 42 days and platelets within five days, having a constant supply of donations is vital. In fact, one blood transfusion can save up to three lives. That’s a pretty good return on investment! However, less than 40 percent of the population is eligible to give blood. This makes it even more important that eligible donors give what they can—seniors included.
How To Donate Blood After 65
With just a little preparation, you could be ready to donate blood at your earliest convenience. Senior blood donations can lead to some adverse reactions such as dizziness or fatigue. For seniors worried about the possibility of a fall, it’s smart to plan ahead. Taking a few precautions beforehand can reduce your chance of side-effects:
- Eat well. A diet high in iron is a good idea before giving blood. Make sure to eat a dish containing red meat, fish, poultry, beans, spinach, iron-fortified cereals, or raisins.
- Get a good night’s sleep.
- Drink extra liquids to stay hydrated after the blood draw.
- If you’re donating platelets, make sure not to take an aspirin for two days before your donation.
- Follow instructions while giving blood, and make sure to stick around for the 15 minute waiting period after donating. This will ensure that if you do experience any side-effects, someone will be there to help.
The Red Cross also has some guidelines as to who can donate blood and when:
- You must be feeling well and in good general health to donate blood.
- You can donate whole blood every 56 days.
- Most states require you to be at least 16 years old.
- Your weight must be at least 110 lbs.
There are alternatives to donating whole blood. You can also donate platelets—crucial for people fighting cancers and chronic disease—or plasma. You can donate platelets as often as once a week, up to 24 times a year. The guidelines for donating platelets and plasma differ slightly from whole blood, so be sure to check out the eligibility requirements.
More Ways To Help
However, for seniors who can’t give blood, there are other ways to help. Consider donating your time as a blood drive volunteer, and help facilitate this crucial service to your community. You can also encourage a donor among your friends or family by tagging along with them and providing emotional support throughout the process. Spreading the word about upcoming blood drives is a huge step in getting people to donate. You can even organize a local blood drive yourself!
Seniors who want to give back to their community can benefit from an in-home caregiver. A caregiver handles many of the day-to-day tasks that getting older can make more time-consuming. With more time in your day, you can embrace what matters to you in life, whether it’s new hobbies or community service. What all might you get to do, with an in-home caregiver to help?
About Generations Home Care
Generations Home Care personalized in-home care and support services help those recovering from illness, injury, or surgery, living with a chronic disease, or dealing with the natural process of aging. We help people live a fuller, healthier, and independent life.
Our caregivers are trained in the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended COVID-19 safety precautions. We offer levels of care ranging from companionship, to respite for the primary family caregiver, to homemaking services, to assistance with activities of daily living, to Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Generations Home Care takes a holistic approach and emphasizes a consistent, client-centered plan of care.
Our Specialty Services Include:
- Rehab or hospital-to-home programs for safe discharge.
- Short-term post-operative care during recovery periods.
- Non-medical life management services for people with chronic conditions.
- Veteran’s connection to care program.
- Live-in services and couples care.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you, contact us today at 602-595-HOME (4663) or by filling out the contact form on our website.