We may think of hypothermia as something that happens when people are stranded in a blizzard or lost in the snow, but for many seniors, hypothermia is a constant danger. One does not have to be trapped in a blizzard or lost in the snow to suffer from hypothermia.
Caregivers for seniors should be aware of what hypothermia is and how it may affect seniors. In this caregiving services blog, we talk about the dangers of hypothermia and senior living.
Disease and the Increased Risk of Hypothermia
There are a number of diseases that increase the risk of hypothermia. Diabetes is one disease that changes how our body responds to temperatures. Coronary artery disease (CAD) is another disorder that affects the temperature of extremities. Medication can also play a part in cases of hypothermia. A good example of medications that affect our body’s ability to regulate temperature are cold medicines that contain fever reducers.
Scientifically, hypothermia occurs when the body has a core temperature of 95°F or less. It does not require a long exposure to cold for hypothermia to start. In someone who is diabetic and has cold feet to begin with, a draft from a window can cause hypothermia in a short amount of time. Even with socks and shoes on, diabetics are at risk for hypothermia.
Poor circulation, disease, and medications can increase the risk of hypothermia in seniors. Other factors include alcohol consumption. Staff in nursing homes, those who provide senior care or elder care in homes should be aware of the signs and symptoms of hypothermia.
Senior Health — Signs and Symptoms of Hypothermia
Some of those symptoms as:
- Increased heart rate
- Trouble speaking
For more severe cases, shivering stops, and patients may show signs of poor coordination, shock-like symptoms such as a weak pulse, and shallow breathing. Sometimes irrational behavior also becomes evident. People who suffer from moderate to severe hypothermia may even try to remove warm clothing because they no longer feel cold.
This list of symptoms mirrors other medical emergencies. We mentioned shock, but some of the symptoms such as dizziness and nausea can be signs of stroke or even a heart attack.
One of the dangers associated with hypothermia is the fact that the process begins slowly and then manifests into something that can be deadly. For those of who work in senior health, frequent monitoring of signs and symptoms of hypothermia can reduce episodes of this preventable condition.
For caregiving services, be sure to add hypothermia to your education and training for staff. Hypothermia is preventable, but we have to try to detect it in its early stages. While the technology to treat hypothermia is advanced, people still die from hypothermia even as they are being treated for it.
Dynamic Nursing trains our staff to recognize the signs of symptoms of many diseases, including early signs of hypothermia. By focusing on senior care standards, we provide comprehensive care that is both warm and complete.