The thermometer plunged, and Houston residents are locked in a multi-day cold spell. Texans aren’t accustomed to temperatures hovering at the freezing point for such an extended period; therefore, home caregivers should note extra precautions against hypothermia in seniors.
As our bodies age, we become less efficient at regulating heat and it’s easy to become chilled. Even keeping a home in the 60 degree to 65 degree range can lead to illness in some seniors, especially for older adults taking certain medications or with existing health conditions such as diabetes or heart disease.
What are early symptoms of hypothermia in seniors?
2. Slowed speech or slurring
3. Weakened pulse rate
4. Clumsy movements
5. Uncontrollable shivering, or not shivering at all
Hypothermia is a common health threat among older adults and precautions should be taken to prevent complications from the cold. A relatively mild or windy day can spell trouble for some seniors due to their inability to respond to temperature changes.
Tips on staying warm in winter
1. Maintain room temperature at least 68 degrees to 70 degrees. If heating is inadequate or fails during a winter storm, relocate to a hotel or other suitable shelter. Before cold weather settles in, weatherize the home with insulation and caulking.
2. Maintain humidity with a humidifier or placing water-filled tubs throughout the home.
3. Keep neck, heads and hands covered to prevent loss of heat.
4. Drink plenty of fluids and eat high-protein foods. Hot drinks, vegetable soup, and protein-packed stews are an excellent source of calories and warmth.
5. Exercise to raise body temperature.
6. Use plenty of layered clothing rather than one bulky sweater.
Also, don’t forget to check the working order of smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors while monitoring the safe use of additional area heaters or fireplaces.