With the winter months here the cold weather is upon us. It is very important during these months to make sure that seniors are well taken care of. Remember as the body ages its ability to regulate its own temperature changes. This can be dangerous for seniors in extreme temperatures but the cold can be especially dangerous. Hypothermia is a real danger for seniors, with over half of all hypothermia deaths occurring among people 60 and older.
Hypothermia is a medical emergency that occurs when your body loses heat faster than it can produce heat, causing a dangerously low body temperature. Normal body temperature should be around 98.6 hypothermia occurs as your body temperature falls below 95 degrees Fahrenheit. When your body temperature drops your heart, nervous system and other organs can’t work normally. Hypothermia can lead to complete heart failure, respiratory system failure and eventually death. Some symptoms of hypothermia include: shivering, shallow breathing, weak pulse, and slurred speech or mumbling.
Here are some helpful tips for seniors to stay warm this winter
- Don’t skimp on the heat: don’t save on money by turning your heat low. Anything lower than a thermostat set at 68 degrees in a poorly insulated house can be dangerous for seniors. Drops in body temperature often cannot be felt, so a senior could not be aware that they are cold and it can be too late before proper action is taken. Seniors should keep the thermostate at a minimum of 68-70 degrees and should take care of their drafty windows and doors.
- Avoid heating dangers: it is tempting to use space heaters, fires or electric blankets but seniors should take extra care when using these amenities. Space heathers should always be in a well ventilated space, and at least two feet away from furniture, walls or flammable objects. Do not use electric blankets at night, it can be difficult to adjust settings if it gets too warm. Instead use more blankets such as wool, down or flannel.
- Wear layers: seniors should wear layers of clothing. Start with a layer that lays a little closer to the body and made of a fabric that wicks away moisture. For outer layers, wool, flannel or thick sweatshirt material is ideal. Be sure to also wear dry clothes if your clothes get damp change the clothes immediately.
- Bundle up when going outdoors: seniors should be careful to bundle up when heading outdoors during cold months. Wear a coat and pay careful attention to also cover the head, the neck and hands. Wear weatherproof shoes or boots to keep feet warm and dry as well. Seniors can lose blood circulation to hands and feet quickly. So be sure to always wear gloves, socks and boots.
If you follow these steps it will help keep you and your loved ones safe and warm through the winter months. If you think your loved one might be experiencing hypothermia slowly warm them by wrapping them in blankets and adjusting the indoor temperature. Never have them take a hot bath or shower, or have them drink alcohol. Be sure to call 911 immediately if you need extra assistance.
If you or a loved one needs help through the winter months please call Relevar Home Care. 586-493-7677