It’s been an especially cold winter in many parts of the country, with snow and ice wreaking havoc with everyday routines. For many senior citizens, the freezing temperatures were quite dangerous, resulting in the onset of hypothermia, which you might not realize is one of the biggest killers of older people in America.
Seniors are especially susceptible to contracting hypothermia because their immune systems aren’t as strong as younger adults, while they might also find it harder to detect changes in temperature and react suitably (i.e. by putting on warmer clothes or extra layers in freezing weather). That’s why it is doubly important to check in on elderly relatives in the winter months so that they are not suffering in the extreme cold.
When visiting elderly relatives during the winter, look out for signs such as confusion, drowsiness, a rapid decline in physical appearance or extreme shivering. These could all hint at the presence of hypothermia, so if you notice one or more of these, it’s time to take action and the first thing to do is call 911. While waiting for medics to arrive, you can help the elderly person by moving them to somewhere warm, wrapping them in an extra blanket or giving them a warm, non-alcoholic (or non-caffeinated) drink.
This infographic from Home Healthcare Adaptations contains plenty of practical information on elderly hypothermia, so please take just 2-3 minutes to read through it.