It doesn’t take a medical professional to realize seniors face an increased risk for many health problems. Diabetes, heart disease, malnutrition and dementia are all more common in elderly individuals. There’s another lesser-known health risk seniors and their caregivers should be aware of: hypothermia. Hypothermia symptoms vary, but commonly include shivering, stiffness of the arms and legs, slow reaction time, weak pulse, confusion, tiredness and slow or slurred speech.
Hypothermia is the opposite of becoming overheated. When an individual’s core body temperature drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit, he or she is prone to developing hypothermia. This happens when the body loses heat faster than it is able to replenish it. Minor cases of hypothermia lead to confusion and discomfort. In the most severe cases, hypothermia can be fatal. Causes of hypothermia vary. Unfortunately, one cause is failing to adequately heat one’s home to save money. In the coldest months, it’s essential to check on elderly loved ones and neighbors who are on fixed incomes. Each year, more than 500 seniors die in the United States due to symptoms of hypothermia. If you ever suspect a senior is developing hypothermia, take his or her temperature. A reading of 96 degrees Fahrenheit or lower is dangerous and requires immediate medical intervention.
Unfortunately, hypothermia risks are greater in seniors who live independently and are on fixed incomes. Simply put, they don’t turn the heat on because they’re trying to save money. Even in climate controlled assisted living healthcare in Oklahoma City, seniors can develop this condition. Besides economics, the main risk factors are slower metabolisms, chronic medical conditions such as diabetes and Parkinson’s disease, and certain common medications, such as sedatives and antidepressants.
If your senior loved one resides in senior living in Oklahoma City, you can breathe a sigh of relief during the winter. Assisted living communities in OKC are well aware of the risks of hypothermia and make sure their facilities are safe and warm. Ideally, seniors’ environments should remain in the 68 to 70 degree Fahrenheit range for optimal health. Other steps to keep seniors safe from this condition include:
Encouraging them to dress in layers, including long underwear, socks, slippers and caps.
Encouraging them to sip on warm beverages to raise their core body temperature.
Discussing seniors’ medications with their doctors. Some medications make seniors more susceptible to developing hypothermia.
Remaining vigilant and watching for the signs of hypothermia. Often, seniors in the early stages of hypothermia aren’t able to feel the cold or communicate they’re cold.
If you have aging loved ones who aren’t able to care for themselves and want to do what’s in their best interests, it’s wise to consider assisted living. Often assisted living is the best option for keeping your loved ones safe. If you would like to learn more about why senior living is often the best choice, contact us at Village at Oakwood.