FROM THE EDITOR'S PEN
/ Bundliní Up
The cold weather that
has gripped our nation over the past few weeks has
left almost no community unaffected. Seeing a
couple from Minnesota standing on a South Florida
street, wearing their warmest winter gear and still
shivering, brings home the point that we need to be
attentive to the problems of cold weather, no matter
where we live.
I am thankful to our friends at the
Geriatrics Society for the following
information that all caregivers need to heed for
their loved ones and for themselves.
When the temperature drops, older adults run a high
risk of health problems related to the cold
including hypothermia (dangerously low body
temperature), frostbite, falls on ice and snow, and
injuries. So it's important that they, and those who
care for them, take certain precautions this time of
Because older adults have slower metabolisms, they
tend to produce less body heat than younger people.
Thanks to the way our bodies change as we age, it's
also harder for older adults to tell when the
temperature is too low. This can be dangerous
because your body, when outside in the cold for too
long, begins to lose heat very quickly. The result
can be hypothermia, a deadly drop in body
temperature. Here's what you should do:
- Stay indoors when it's very cold outside, especially
if it's also very windy; and keep indoor
temperatures at about 65 degrees.
- If you have to go outside, don't stay out in the
cold or the wind for very long.
- Wear two or three thinner layers of loose-fitting
clothing. (They are warmer than a single layer of
thick clothing.) Always wear:
- a hat
- gloves or mittens (mittens are warmer)
- a coat and boots
- a scarf to cover your mouth and nose and protect
your lungs from very cold air
- Stay dry; wet clothing chills your body quickly.
- Go indoors if you start shivering; it's a warning
sign that you're losing body heat.
- Know the warning signs of hypothermia: lots of
shivering; cold skin that is pale or ashy; feeling
very tired, confused and sleepy; feeling weak;
problems walking; slowed breathing or heart rate.
Note: Don't rely on shivering alone as a warning
sign, since older people tend to shiver less, and
some, not at all, as their body temperature drops.
Call 911 if you think you or someone else has
Going back inside for a cup of hot chocolate.† Stay warm!