Older adults can lose body heat fast, a lot faster than when they were young. Along with aging comes changes in your body. These changes make it more difficult for an older adult to become aware of when they are getting cold. If these specific signs are not detected within a specific amount of time a dangerous problem can arise. This problem is known as hypothermia.
What is Hypothermia?
Hypothermia happens when your body temperature gets too low. General symptoms may include:
- Slowed or slurred speech
- Sleepiness or Confusion
- Shivering or stiffness in the arms or legs
- Poor control over body movements
- Weak pulse
When two or more of these symptoms become evident, seek emergency medical care immediately.
After Calling 9-1-1
- Try to move to a warmer place
- Wrap yourself in a warm blankets, towels or coats
- Try to get something warm to drink. Tea or warm water is perfect
- Do not try to rub legs or arms
- Do not try to warm yourself up in a bath
- Do not use a heating pad
How to Avoid Hypothermia
Keep warm inside. Living in a cold house or apartment can cause hypothermia, it is even possible in a nursing home or group facility. If you or someone you know is in a group facility, pay close attention to the inside temperature and if that person is dressed warm enough.
Keeping Your House Warm
- Be sure to set your heat to at least 68-70 degrees. If you want to save money on heating costs, close any doors to rooms that are not being used. You can also place a towel on the bottom opening of the door to keep out drafts.
- Make sure you are dressing warmly on increasingly cold days, even if you are staying inside. Wear multiple layers, as well as socks and slippers.
- Make sure you aren't losing any heat through windows. If you have gaps in your windows, try using weather stripping to keep the cold air out.
- Ask family and friends to check on you during cold weather. If any power outages leave you without heat, try your best to stay with a relative or friend.