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Why Winter Temperatures Can Be Dangerous for Older Adults

| December 16, 2018

Why Winter Temperatures Can Be Dangerous for Older Adults

While being in cold weather can’t give you the cold or the flu, it can still cause very serious health problems. Older adults can lose body heat fast. Some of the changes that come with aging may make it harder for people to be aware that they getting cold before it’s too late. Hypothermia is a dangerous condition that can come on very quickly.

Hypothermia is a condition that occurs when your body temperature gets too low. While a younger person may be able to tolerate colder temperatures, an older person’s body temperature should never drop below 95°.  Health problems that can result from becomingtoo cold include such things as heart attacks, kidney problems, liver damage, or even death.

Hypothermia can happen to our elderly whether being outside in the cold or even inside their house or nursing home where the thermostat is set too low.  If you are caring for a loved one, help them avoid cold places and pay attention to how cold it is where they are living. Elderly people are often on a fixed budget and may set the temperature to low in an effort to save money. It is recommended that home temperatures be set no lower than 68 degrees. It is also important to dress appropriately, even indoors. Elderly people who are sick or suffer from chronic conditions like diabetes, thyroid problems and arthritis are at an even higher risk of developing hypothermia, and those with Alzheimer’s or memory problems may forget to dress properly when they go outside. Additionally, some medications can affect a person’s ability to retain body heat.

 If you have an elderlyfamily member, neighbor or someone you’re caring for, make sure they are keeping their home warm enough and that they are dressing for the weather.  Encourage them to eat well and keep up their body weight. Drinking alcohol should be kept to a minimum as it can contribute to the loss of body heat. If there are power outages, help get them to a safe and warm place until heat is restored.

 Early signs of hypothermia can include cold feet and hands, pale skin, shivering, slow or slurred speech, puffy face, fatigue, confusion, clumsiness, slowed heartbeat, and shallow breathing. If you suspect you or someone you care for is showing signs of hypothermia, call 9-1-1 immediately.

Adele’s Caring Angels suggests that if you or someone you know is having trouble paying their heating bills, you can help them find relief through resources such as the National Energy Assistance Referral Service at 1-866-674-6327

If you are looking for a compassionate, caring and trustworthy caregiver service to help care for your loved ones, Call Adele’s Caring Angels today at 
313-414-0065

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