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Since older adults are especially vulnerable to hypothermia, the National Institute on Aging (NIH) offers several tips on how to spot, treat and prevent the condition in order for you and your loved ones stay safe this winter.
Though most people know that winter presents dangers for older people, such as broken bones from falls on ice, the article states that even being in a cold building can cause hypothermia, which can be deadly. Cold buildings are especially dangerous for people who are already sick and have special problems keeping warm.
The NIH urges that, “Hypothermia can happen anywhere — not just outside and not just in northern states.” Keeping the thermostat set for at least 68°F to 70°F can help keep you or your loved ones safe at home this winter.
According to the article, hypothermia can be spotted by looking for the "umbles" — stumbles, mumbles, fumbles, and grumbles — which can show that the cold is a problem.
It is also important to check for:
1. Confusion or sleepiness
2. Slowed, slurred speech, or shallow breathing
3. Weak pulse
4. Change in behavior or in the way a person looks
5. A lot of shivering or no shivering; stiffness in the arms or legs
6. Poor control over body movements or slow reactions
Seniors with Alzeheimer’s should be especially prepared to stay safe in cold weather. The NIH recommends that the person has the following supplies available:
- Warm clothing and blankets
- Flashlights and extra batteries in case power goes out
- Food that is easy to prepare
- Incontinence undergarments, if needed
Read the full article: Hypothermia: A Cold Weather Hazard
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