Hypothermia Alert for Older People
parts of the nation are in the midst of bitter winter weather, with
reports of more rough weather on the way, the government has a warning:
Chilly air and blustery winds can be deadly cold, especially for older
people who are at higher risk for hypothermia.
is a below-normal body temperature, typically 96 Fahrenheit or lower.
Surprisingly, hypothermia can threaten the health of older people in
cool indoor temperatures such as 60 F to 65 F. As people age, they may
lose their natural ability to keep warm in the cold, and inactivity,
illness and certain medications make it even more difficult, according
to the National Institute on Aging (NIA).
important to know some older people may have a dangerous drop in body
temperature inside their own home," said Dr. Terrie Wetle, deputy
director of the NIA.
hypothermia include any unusual change in behavior, confusion,
sleepiness, clumsiness, slurred speech and shallow breathing.
Hypothermia can be prevented. The NIA recommends if you are an older person you should:
- Find out
if you are at risk. Ask your doctor if the prescription or
over-the-counter drugs you take can affect body temperature regulation.
warmly in layers of clothing even when indoors. Hypothermia can occur
in bed, so wear warm clothing to bed and use blankets.
friends or neighbors to look in once or twice a day if you live at
alone. See if your local community has a telephone check-in personal
- Use alcohol moderately, if at all. And avoid alcohol altogether near bedtime.
- Eat hot foods and drink hot liquids to raise your body temperature and keep warm.
- Set the
thermostat in your home to at least 68 F-70 F in living or sleeping
areas. Ask your doctor if you should set your thermostat higher.
- Look into
fuel-assistance programs and home winterization programs. Your local
utility company or area office on aging has an assistance program.
For more information, visit www.nih.gov/nia.