Dangers of the Cold Weather for the Elderly

Dangers from the Cold for the Elderly – and their Prevention

During the winter season, especially during stormy weather, exposure to cold could cause body temperature to drop below the normal level (98.6 degrees Fahrenheit) and hypothermia – a condition in which body temperature drops to below 95 degrees or less, a condition that causes multi-system injury and increased mortality.

At an older age and among the elderly, the danger of exposure to cold and of hypothermia is particularly high, and even with a mild drop in environmental temperature, there is already a risk of reduced body temperature.

The danger presented by the cold to older adults is elevated due to a combination of bodily (physiological) and behavioral factors:

 

The more personal and environmental risk factors the elderly person has, the greater the risk. It is therefore important to take the following precautions (each recommendation will be described in detail below):

Proper heating and avoiding exposure to the cold

Health habits

Consulting with the family physician

Elderly persons living alone

Persons living alone may have difficulty heating the home and caring for themselves (clothing, eating, drinking and the like), and they are at elevated risk for injury from the cold.

Sometimes, elderly people who live alone fall at home and remain lying on the cold floor for long periods, which could result in severe hypothermia.

It is therefore recommended, in addition to the above, to take the following actions:

How can you identify body heat loss (hypothermia) in the elderly?

What to do if hypothermia is suspected

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