Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/798

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Warmth is very important for the aged; exposure to chills should be scrupulously avoided. Bronchitis is the malady most to be feared, and its attacks are very easily provoked. Many old people suffer from more or less cough during the winter months, and this symptom may recur year after year, and be almost unheeded. At last, perhaps a few minutes' exposure to a cold wind increases the irritation in the lungs, the cough becomes worse, and the difficulty of breathing increases until suffocation terminates in death. To obviate such risk the skin should be carefully protected by warm flannel clothes, the outdoor thermometer should be noticed, and winter garments should always be at hand. In cold weather the lungs should be protected by breathing through the nose as much as possible, and by wearing a light woolen or silken muffler over the mouth. The temperature of the sitting- and bed-rooms is another point which requires attention. Some old people pride themselves on never requiring a fire in their bedrooms. It is, however, a risky practice to exchange a temperature of 65° or 70° for one fifteen or twenty degrees lower. As a general rule, for persons sixty-five years of age and upward, the temperature of the bed-room should not be below 60°, and when there are any symptoms of bronchitis it should be raised from five to ten degrees higher.

Careful cleansing of the skin is the last point which needs to be mentioned in an article like the present. Attention to cleanliness is decidedly conducive to longevity, and we may congratulate ourselves on the general improvement in our habits in this respect. Frequent washing with warm water is very advantageous for old people, in whom the skin is only too apt to become hard and dry; and the benefit will be increased if the ablutions be succeeded by friction with coarse flannel or linen gloves, or with a flesh-brush. Every part of the skin should be thus washed and rubbed daily. The friction removes worn-out particles of the skin, and the exercise promotes warmth and excites perspiration. Too much attention can hardly be paid to the state of the skin; the comfort of the aged is greatly dependent upon the proper discharge of its functions.

Such, then, are the principal measures by which life may be prolonged and health maintained down to the closing scene. It remains to be seen whether, as a result of progress of knowledge and civilization, life will ever be protracted beyond the limit assigned to it in a preceding paragraph. There is no doubt that the average duration of human life is capable of very great extension, and that the same causes which serve to prolong life materially contribute toward the happiness of mankind. The experience of the last few decades abundantly testifies to the marked improvement which has taken place in the public health. Statistics show