Did you know that the way older adults perceive cold is different than it was when they were young? As people get older, they don’t feel cold as acutely as they did in their younger years. As a result, seniors are at a higher risk for developing hypothermia, which can be fatal.
What is Hypothermia?
Hypothermia occurs when the body loses heat faster than it produces it. This makes the body temperature drop so low that it is dangerous. Normal body temperature is around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. When it drops below 95 degrees, hypothermia sets in.
When body temperature is too low, the body cannot work properly. It can affect the heart and nervous system function as well as other organs. The two most common ways that hypothermia occurs are:
- Being exposed to cold weather.
- Submersion in cold water, such as from falling through thin ice.
However, it is possible to suffer hypothermia just from being in a cold temperature for a long time. In fact, it’s possible for older adults to suffer from hypothermia while inside their own homes. Some seniors keep the thermostat set low to reduce energy costs. They don’t necessarily notice that the house is cold because of the body’s decreased response to cold.
What Are the Signs a Senior Has Hypothermia?
The first sign of hypothermia is usually shivering. Shivering is the body’s way of trying to warm itself up. Other signs of hypothermia include:
- Speech that sounds slurred or like the senior is mumbling.
- Weakened pulse.
- Slow or shallow breathing.
- Poor coordination.
- Loss of consciousness.
Hypothermia is a medical emergency. If you suspect your older family member is hypothermic, call 911. While you wait for emergency personnel to arrive, do your best to keep the older adult warm. If they are outside, gently move them inside. Cover them with blankets or a coat. If their clothing is wet, take it off.
How Can Hypothermia Be Prevented?
Hypothermia is prevented by making sure that older adults stay warm. Home care can help older adults to stay warm when they are outside or when they are in their homes. Home care providers can ensure seniors are dressed in warm layers when they go outside and that their heads, necks, and hands are covered. On particularly cold days, home care providers can check in on seniors to ensure the temperature of the house is warm enough and that they are not showing symptoms of hypothermia.
Are you or a loved one considering a Caregiver in Jacksonville, AR? First Choice Senior Care can help. Serving all of Little Rock and Central Arkansas.
Please call and talk to our caring staff today. (501) 916-9307