10 Ways to Prevent Hypothermia in Seniors
Wednesday, December 12, 2018 - by Euro-American Connections & Homecare
The first thing you may think when you hear the word “hypothermia” might resemble a scene from a popular survival reality show or documentary about climbing Mount Everest, right? If you fall into a frozen river, you’re bound to get hypothermia, right? Well,pothermia can lead to pneumonia, kidney problems, liver damage and even death in seniors?
hypothermia is very real and very common amongst seniors that live in a cold house, apartment or even nursing home or assisted living facility.
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As we dive into the peak winter season, being aware of the risks and causes of hypothermia in seniors is critical, so use the below tips on making sure it never happens to your loved one!
- Watch out for individuals who are sick or live with a chronic illness as they are more prone to falling victim to hypothermia.
- Even if you set the thermostat to between 60 and 65, remember that the ideal indoor temperature for a senior is between 65 – 68 degrees. If you have a loved one that lives alone or lives at a nursing home, make sure that you remind them about the importance of keeping the house warm, and consider finding a way to lock the settings on the thermostat so that no one can fumble with it.
- Place a draft guard or rolled up towel in front of your doors to keep out drafts, which can significantly alter the temperature in your loved one’s home and waste a ton of energy!
- Save on heating bills by never setting the heat to over 70 degrees. Think of 65 degrees as a must, but between 68 – 70 degrees as the “sweet spot”.
- Keep in mind that larger houses require more energy to keep warm, so be sure to keep cost in mind and to shut the doors in rooms your loved one doesn’t go into to save energy. If possible, set the rooms your loved one doesn’t use to around 60 – 65 degrees, and prioritize only the kitchen, bathroom, living room and bedroom by setting it to between 65 and 68.
- Space heaters can be effective, but can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning or even fires if not maintained the right way. Check out this safety list from the Consumer Product Safety Commission for guidance!
- Keep your loved one warm at night by layering their bed with several blankets and a comforter. You can even make sure they wear pajamas that hug the body rather than a loose nightgown that provides no shelter from the cold in case they need to get up at night. Cotton is great, and it won’t lead to overheating, and if needed, you can even have your client wear a light hat to keep their head warm.
- If you’re looking for a great gift idea that won’t break the bank this year, get your loved one a heated blanket like this one from Sunbeam on Amazon. It will come in handy whenever you’re not moving around and lounging around on the couch together or even in the car when you go out!
- Fight hypothermia by wearing warm clothes indoors, and always urge your client to wear a light sweater and warm socks and slippers to protect the feet and keep cozy even if they feel warm and comfortable inside the house.
- If a power outage occurs during the cold months, don’t risk it. Ask your agency or client’s family about moving your client out of their home and into the family’s home. Always think of Plan B in case any power outage lasts longer than expected.