With dangerously cold temperatures in the forecast, Home Instead Senior Care says now is the time for seniors and their loved ones to brush up on cold weather safety tips.
“Winter can be a difficult time, as the harsh conditions especially impact seniors,” said Jeff Huber, president of Home Instead, Inc. “We want to make sure seniors and their loved ones are aware of simple ways they can stay safe and warm throughout the season.”
Those over the age of 65 account for nearly half of all hypothermia deaths. As the body ages, the ability to maintain a normal internal body temperature decreases, creating an insensitivity to moderately cold temperatures. Seniors may not realize they are putting themselves at risk until symptoms appear. Symptoms of hypothermia include: shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech and drowsiness. If symptoms are present, immediate medical attention is necessary.
The leading reason for hypothermia in the elderly is due to poorly heated homes, which is entirely preventable. Follow these simple tips to ensure a warm household.
• Keep the thermostat at 65 degrees, at least. Consistently check it to make sure your home is sufficiently warm. Even as heating costs rise, your safety should be a priority.
• Put a carbon monoxide detector near where you sleep.
• Ensure that there is adequate insulation, and check and clean the fireplace and furnace. Furnace filters should be replaced monthly.
• Minimize drafts by filling old socks with sand and using them in drafty windowsills and door jams. Weather-strip around windows and doors. Keep doors to unused rooms closed and close curtains at night.
• Add an extra blanket to the bed and warm the bed in advance with a hot water bottle. Never use an electric blanket – it may be difficult to operate the controls if the temperature needs to be adjusted in the night.