Cold temperatures can cause hypothermia
Older adults can lose body heat faster than when they were young, and a big chill can turn into a dangerous problem before an older person even knows what’s happening.
Doctors call this serious problem hypothermia. Seneca Area Agency on Aging wants caregivers to be aware of signs of hypothermia in their loved ones.
Hypothermia is what happens when a person’s body temperature gets very low. For an older person, a body temperature colder than 95 degrees can cause many health problems, such as a heart attack, kidney problems, liver damage or worse. Being outside in the cold or even being in a very cold house can lead to hypothermia.
Tips for keeping warm inside: Do not let it get too cold inside the house. Set the thermostat at 68 degrees or higher. Wear long johns under clothes. Wear socks and slippers and throw a blanket over legs.
Tips for keeping warm outside: A heavy wind can quickly lower body temperature. Dress for the weather. Wear hat, scarf, waterproof coat and loose layers of clothing.
Early warning signs of hypothermia: Cold feet, hands and pale skin; slower than normal speech.
Later signs of hypothermia: slow, shallow breathing; moving slowly or trouble walking.
Call 911 right away if someone has warning signs of hypothermia. While waiting for medical help, wrap the person in a warm blanket. Do not: Rub the person’s legs or arms, try to warm the person in a bath or use a heating pad.
According to the National Weather Service in the Quad Cities, tonight’s low temperature will be around 5, with a wind chill as low as minus 10. Wednesday’s high is expected to be near 25, with wind chill values as low as minus 10.
“If venturing outdoors ... be prepared for these very cold contisions,” states NWS officials.
For more information about elderly care or family caregiver concerns, call Seneca Area Agency on Aging at 800-642-6522.