Seniors Vulnerable to Hypothermia02/06/11
SUNDAY, Feb. 6 (HealthDay News) -- In cold weather, older adults
are especially vulnerable to hypothermia, and they and their loved
ones need to take steps to prevent this potentially deadly
Hypothermia occurs when a person's body temperature drops below
normal and remains there for an extended length of time. As people
age, their bodies are less able to endure long periods of exposure
to cold, according to the U.S. National Institute on Aging
In addition, illnesses and certain types of medications can
reduce the ability of an elderly person's body to respond to cold.
Seniors also tend to be less active and generate less body heat
than younger people, which means they may develop hypothermia after
exposure to relatively mild cold weather or a small drop in
Signs of hypothermia include slow or slurred speech, confusion
or sleepiness, shivering, stiffness in the arms and legs, weak
pulse, slow reactions and poor control of body movements. If a
person's temperature is 96 degrees or lower, call 911.
The NIA offers the following hypothermia prevention tips for
- When it's cold, wear several layers of loose clothing. The
layers will trap warm air between them. Always wear a hat, scarf,
gloves or mittens when outside in cold weather.
- At home, wear long underwear under your clothes, along with
socks and slippers. Use a blanket or afghan to keep legs and
shoulders warm, and wear a hat or cap.
- Set your home's thermostat to at least 68 to 70 degrees
Fahrenheit. Even indoor temperatures of 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit
can lead to hypothermia in older people.
- Ask your doctor if any prescription or over-the-counter
medications you are taking may increase the risk of
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more
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Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.