Hypothermia - An Overlooked Threat to Seniors (Part 1 of 2)

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posted by Ted Ryan on January 07, 2014

St. Louis is encountering its coldest weather in decades. For caregivers, it’s important to know health concerns that accompany this bitter cold.

We know the dangers of ice and exhaustive snow shoveling, but a lesser-known risk occurs within our own bodies. Hypothermia is when body heat drops abnormally low, and gone untreated, can be life threatening.

Hypothermia is especially concerning for seniors because aging bodies are less able to notice and adjust to temperature change. Even a mildly cold home or building (between 60˚F and 65˚F) can trigger hypothermia in older people, so you should know its signs and check on loved ones often.

Early symptoms include:

  • Shivering
  • Cold, pale or blue-gray skin
  • Lack of interest or concern
  • Poor judgment
  • Unsteady balance or walking
  • Slurred speech
  • Numb hands and fingers and trouble performing tasks

Later symptoms include:

  • Body is cold to the touch
  • Stiff muscles
  • Slow pulse
  • Slow and shallow breathing
  • Weakness or sleepiness
  • Confusion
  • Loss of consciousness

If you notice these symptoms, take your loved one’s temperature. If it reads below 96˚F, call for emergency help.

If you have concerns or need help checking on a loved one, please contact us. We’re here to help.

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