Winter for the young at heart means…hot chocolate, cookies, new fallen snow glistening in the sunlight, family gatherings, sled riding, and building snowmen. But to some, winter raises signs of caution.
The most obvious dangers during the winter months are slips and falls on icy pathways. Another is treacherous driving on the snowy roads. But the real dangers of winter for older adults are hypothermia and frostbite.
Older adults lose body heat fast—faster than when they were young. Hypothermia sets-in when someone’s body temperature turns very low. For an older person, a body temperature colder than 95 degrees can cause many health problems, such as a heart attack, kidney problems, liver damage, or worse. Even being in a cold house can cause hypothermia.
Enjoy the winter months with your grandkids but be safe. Stay on the lookout for signs of hypothermia. These signs can include:
- Loss of motor control
- Cold skin
- Discoloration of ears, fingers, nose, or toes
- Speech difficulties
And please remember to avoid going out during storms or when the temperature is very low. When you do eventually go out, keep your house warm while you are away. Coming home to a warm home is an easy way to prevent frostbite and hypothermia.
Most importantly, if you think your loved one or someone you know is suffering from hypothermia, call 911 immediately.
Enjoy your winter, but please be safe. Feel free to call us for a free booklet published by the National Institute on Aging entitled, “Stay Safe in Cold Weather.” Our toll free number is 888-791-8449.