According to U.S. officials, during winter, seniors have a greater risk of losing body heat and are thus, more easily susceptible to hypothermia.
The experts at the U.S. National Institute on Aging and the National Institutes of Health explained that winter poses an increased risk for seniors because they lose body heat faster, and it’s harder for them to recognize the signs of it.
Essentially, hypothermia is an extreme drop in core temperature and occurs when the body is exposed to extreme cold and is unable to compensate for the difference of temperature.
The dangerous thing about hypothermia is that it can happen even if the body is exposed to cold for a short time. Seniors are at a greater risk of this because of their chronical medical conditions and medications diminish their response to the cold weather, and this includes over-the-counter cold medicine, as noted by the officials.
Some signs of hypothermia include slowed or slurred speech, sleepiness or increased confusion, arm and leg stiffness, decreased body movement control and slowed down reaction times, weak heart pulse, and last, but not least, core body temperature that is lower than 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
Any core body temperature that is lower than 95 degrees Fahrenheit can lead to health issues, and a couple of those include erratic heart rhythm, and kidney/liver damage, as the NIH press release stated.
If you think that you noticed these signs of hypothermia at someone, you are advised to call 911 and relocate the person to a warmer place until help arrives.
There are, however, a few things you can do to avoid hypothermia:
• When faced with colder outside temperatures, it is advised to wear a hat, scarf and gloves, as well as layered clothing which helps keep the warm air between the different layers
• Before going outside, notify your loved ones and close friends that you plan to do so, and bring a charged phone with you
• Maintain warm temperature in your home. Your home temperature should be at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit since even temperatures as high as 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit can lead to hypothermia in seniors.
• While in the confines of your home, always wear long underwear under your regular clothes, including socks and slippers. Use of blankets is also recommended in order to keep your legs and shoulders warm.
If you want to learn more about hypothermia, refer to the article at Health in Aging Foundation.
We can Help! Our local advisors can help your family make a confident decision about senior living.