Did you know that older adults can lose body heat more quickly than younger adults? Illness, low body weight, and medications can all contribute to the loss of body heat in seniors, which can result in hypothermia. Hypothermia occurs when the body temperature gets very low. Even a body temperature of 95 degrees can result in serious health problems such as liver damage, kidney problems, or a heart attack. Fortunately, you can help your senior avoid hypothermia by following these steps:
1. Set the heat to at least 68 degrees in your senior’s home. If heating costs are a concern, shut the vents and close the doors to rooms that aren’t used. Place a rolled towel under the doors of these rooms so the cold air can’t escape.
If your senior needs help paying heating bills, contact NC Department of Health and Human Services for assistance.
2. Caulk and seal all windows and doors, and make sure weather stripping isn’t damaged or loose. Making sure all doors and windows are sealed will keep cold air at bay.
3. Make sure your senior dresses warmly, both outdoors and inside. Have him or her wear a sweater or sweatshirt indoors, and add long underwear under pajamas at night. Be sure they’re bundled up well with a heavy coat, gloves, hat, and insulated boots when going outside. And always have extra blankets on hand for covering up at night and while seated indoors.
4. Be sure your older family member is getting plenty to eat. Keeping up body weight is essential in staying warm —body fat provides an additional layer of protection against body temperature dropping.
5. Encourage your senior to limit or avoid alcohol. Alcohol drains the body of heat. Have him or her drink hot tea, cocoa, or other warming liquids instead.
6. If your senior has health issues such as thyroid problems, Parkinson’s, diabetes, arthritis, or even just has a cold, take extra precautions. Any illness can compromise the body’s ability to hold in heat.
7. Watch your senior carefully for signs of hypothermia. If he or she has trouble speaking, is shivering, or has difficulty walking, call your family doctor immediately. For more information on the signs of hypothermia and what to do if you suspect your senior is suffering from it, visit WebMD.
Making sure your senior is keeping warm, eating regularly, and staying safe during winter months requires a lot of time and energy. If you find yourself worrying that you aren’t able to provide the care your senior needs, we can help. Our caring, qualified staff can help your older loved one remain safe, active and independent, providing both them and you with peace of mind.
Call us today to learn more about our full range of services, including daily check-ins to make sure your senior is staying safe and warm this winter!