Brrrrrrrr! It’s Cold Outside

Now that we’re without a doubt in the clutches of Old Man Winter, we have to be especially vigilant about the problem of dealing with low temperatures while caring for a senior friend or relative. Cold weather can create serious problems and health concerns for seniors. Two very important issues to be aware of are slip-and-falls and hypothermia.

It’s probably best to stay indoors in very cold weather but if your loved must go out, it makes sense to take precautions against falling. One of the most important things your senior can do is to dress appropriately with “sensible” shoes or boots. They need to have good ‘non-skid’ soles and be as waterproof as possible. Wet feet are very quickly cold feet. If your senior uses a cane or walker, this is not the time to leave it at home. Be sure the rubber tips on these devices are not worn down. It’s also important to make sure walkways and entrance areas are shoveled and salted if needed. Even a small amount of slush will make these areas slippery.

Another concern for seniors during cold weather is hypothermia which is an unusually low body temperature which can result in illness or death. According to the National Institute on Aging, over 2.5 million seniors are especially vulnerable to hypothermia. As many as 25,000 of them die each year. Seniors are particularly at risk because they may not feel the cold as easily as younger people do. They end up losing body heat faster than it can naturally be replaced by the body and temperatures do not have to be below freezing for hypothermia to occur. In addition, statistically, seniors take a lot of prescription drugs and these drugs also predispose them to hypothermia. Carefully monitor your senior if they take anti-depressants, tranquilizers, sedatives, or cardiovascular medication. Medical conditions your loved one may have can also cause a lack of feeling in their extremities and they may not realize how cold they are. These conditions include diabetes, arthritis and stroke complications.

Take some precautions with your senior or loved one when it’s so cold. If they live alone, check on them every day. Be certain that the thermostat is set no lower than 68 degrees. Make sure they dress in layers of light clothing and have extra blankets on the bed at night. Hypothermia can develop even during sleep. If you see them shivering or acting particularly drowsy, or they seem unusually confused or fumble with their hands, head for the emergency room. Don’t let your loved one become a statistic. Do you have any other tips for handling all this cold weather? Share below and visit us at http://www.trilliumhomecare.com

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Filed under Aging in Place, Caregiver, Home Care, Personal care, Senior Care, Trillium HomeCare

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