Given that January is National Volunteer Blood Donor Month, now is a good time to start thinking about donating so as to help someone who is really in need of that life-giving blood. There is always a shortage of available blood, because so much is needed to satisfy all the possible cases where blood is necessary in treating accidents and other blood deficiencies. January is typically the time of year when national blood reserves are at their lowest, so it’s probably the most crucial time of year to consider donating.
The observance of Blood Donor month has been in place for more than half a century now, and even though almost half of all Americans are eligible, only about 10% actually donate. Make this the year that you decide to help out a fellow human in need by donating your own healthy blood. We’ll discuss in this article some of the most important things that every senior should know before donating.
It’s a common misconception that seniors are ineligible to donate blood, since there is no actual maximum age requirement associated with donating at all. The American Red Cross states that age is no factor as long as a potential donor meets the other standard requirements. This being said, it is true that some states have requirements for donors over the age of 65, for instance a simple note from a doctor stating that the senior is in good health before donating. The actual basic requirements for donating include all of the following
- you must not have donated for the last 56 days
- you must weigh at least 110 lbs, and there are some additional weight requirements for donors who are aged 18 and younger
- you must be at least 17 years old to donate in most states, although with parental consent, it will be possible to donate at age 16
- you must be feeling well and be in good general health before donating.
Preparing to donate
When you’re preparing to donate blood as a senior, make sure to ask if there are any additional state requirements associated with your age. Assuming that this is not an obstacle, on the day that you’re scheduled to donate, make sure that you drink plenty of fluids and are well hydrated. You should also be sure and get a good night’s sleep on the night prior to your donation day. Before going in to donate blood, have a light and healthy meal, so that you feel satisfied but not bloated for your appointment.
Some possible drawbacks
Anyone who is afraid of needles might have a difficult time donating, although there are ways you can manage your fear. When you arrive, let the staff know that you have a dread of needles, and they will probably be able to help you achieve a state of relaxation. They might have you listen to calming music, or simply to close your eyes and try to achieve a peaceful state of mind. Some seniors are afraid they might faint during the process, because they’ve heard stories about people being light-headed after donating.
After you’ve donated, the staff members will probably have you eat a small snack and drink some fluids, until you are sure that you’re feeling well enough to leave. If you do feel fatigued or someone drained after donating, it’s a good idea to relax the rest of the day. There’s no need to worry about donating blood being safe, because all donation centers make use of sterile, single-use needles for every donor. That means there’s zero chance of being infected with any kind of disease during the donation process.
The blood donating process
The entire process to donate blood takes very little time, and immediately after you arrive, you will be asked to sign in and review some of the basic eligibility requirements. Then you’ll have to show your driver’s license, and read some information related to the process of donating blood. At some centers, you’ll have to go through a confidential interview that requires you to answer some questions about any medications you might be taking, as well as an overview of your medical history.
Then you’ll have your vitals taken, so that your hemoglobin levels, your blood pressure, and your body temperature can be measured. Then you’ll be taken to the donation area, where you will sit in a relaxing chair for the entire process. Once your arm has been sterilized and the needle inserted, the entire process will only take about 10 minutes. In fact, you’ll probably be at the donation center for a combined total of no more than an hour, and probably less than that. When you leave, you should feel more or less normal, and you’ll have a really good feeling about having helped someone else in need.