Does the term “hypothermia” bring to mind a rugged ice fisherman spending hours huddled in sub-zero temperatures? Certainly it couldn’t affect our senior loved ones who spend most of their time cozily tucked indoors. Or could it?
The cold, hard facts are that seniors lose body heat faster than they did when they were younger, and hypothermia can strike quickly. For older adults, a body temperature that drops below 95 degrees can result in a plethora of problems, affecting the kidneys, liver, heart and more. And even keeping the thermostat in the home too low can put seniors at risk.
Additionally, other health concerns, such as arthritis, hypothyroidism, and Parkinson’s disease, as well as some medications, can cause seniors to become cold faster than they otherwise might.
The National Institutes of Health recommends the following to keep your senior loved ones safely warm this winter:
- Keep the thermostat set to at least 68 degrees, and be sure the senior dresses warmly, even while indoors
- Be sure seniors are consuming enough calories to maintain a healthy weight, as body fat helps provide warmth
- Encourage seniors to avoid or limit alcoholic beverages during colder weather, as alcohol causes the body to lose heat
- Talk with the senior’s doctor about any medications being taken – especially those that treat depression, nausea or anxiety, as well as OTC cold medications, which can increase risk of hypothermia in seniors
It’s also important to be aware of the warning signs of hypothermia, and seek medical help immediately if hypothermia is suspected:
- The NIH describes the signs of hypothermia as the “umbles”: mumbling, fumbling, stumbling, and grumbling
- Shivering and stiffness (although these are not always present)
- Weaker pulse
- Excessive sleepiness or confusion
- Slowed reaction time and reduced control over body movements
For further help in keeping your senior loved ones safe from hypothermia, contact Compassionate Nursing Services. Our professional home health care in St. Louis gives family members peace of mind in knowing their senior loved ones are safe, warm and well.
You can reach us any time at 314-432-4312 for help with picking up groceries and prescriptions and running other errands, so seniors can stay indoors when it’s cold outside, and for a friendly companion to come in and spend quality time engaging in fun activities, favorite pastimes, exercise programs, and more. We also offer a full range of skilled nursing services when extra care is needed. Let us know how we can best help you!