With the cold weather approaching, it is likely you are concerned about keeping your elderly loved one warm and comfortable. As a family caregiver, you may have heard about the dangers of cold weather for senior adults, and you want to make sure your parent stays safe and healthy throughout the season. This may leave you wondering how cold is too cold, and how to tell if your aging parent is experiencing hypothermia.
When most people think of hypothermia, they think of extremely low temperatures, wet conditions, and possibly being outdoors for extended amount of time. While these are certainly dangerous circumstances, an elderly adult does not need such extreme circumstances to experience hypothermia. In fact, studies have shown that elderly adults in relatively mild conditions can still be in danger. Even temperatures as mild as 64 degrees can be dangerous for fragile adults.
This makes it extremely important to keep your parent warm consistently throughout the season. Many elderly adults worry about the high cost of heating their home, but if they turn their thermostat too low, they could be putting themselves at risk for suffering hypothermia and the very dangerous consequences that can occur.
There are many reasons elderly adults are more vulnerable to hypothermia than younger adults.
Primarily, elderly adults are less capable of regulating their internal body temperature than younger people. This means they are more prone to overheating and becoming too cold because the internal systems that generally regulate temperature, including sweating and shivering, do not work as effectively. Seniors also have a lower metabolic rate, which means the body does not produce as much heat. Health conditions such as diabetes and Parkinson’s disease further increase the risk for hypothermia.
Some things to look out for that may indicate hypothermia in your elderly parent include:
- Weak pulse
- Stiffness in arms and legs
- Slow reactions
- Slow body movements
- Shallow breathing
Being a family caregiver may make you feel as though you are not able to participate in the holiday season as you once did. If you usually travel for the holidays and cannot bring your elderly loved one along, you do not have to worry that you have to cancel your plans. Instead, rely on respite senior care. With this type of care, a senior home care services provider steps in on a temporary basis to give your loved one at the care they need while you are away. This means they are able to stay safe and healthy while you can relax and enjoy your time with friends and family without worrying about their needs.
If you or a loved one are considering Senior Care Services in Penn Hills PA, please call and talk to the caring staff at Extended Family Care of Pittsburgh at (412) 693-6009. We will answer all of your questions.
Laura has earned her MBA in Health Care Administration from Canisius College, a Bachelor of Science degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo and is currently a CPR/First Aid Instructor for the American Red Cross. Laura has sat on three Professional Advisory Committees throughout the community, has been on the Board of Directors for a non-profit nursing home, currently acts as an Advisory Board Member for the Allegheny County Respite Care Coalition, Gateway Health Plan, and the North Allegheny School District Elementary Advisory Council. She is also an active committee member of the Southwestern PA Partnership on Aging, Twilight Wish Foundation and Marshall Elementary Yearbook Committee.
Raising four active children with her husband Brian, she seems to spend more time on baseball and soccer fields than she does at home which helps her appreciate their family vacation time even more.