The recent cold snap that swept across the country is a reminder that winter weather can be particularly hard for our elders. A decrease in fat and thinning skin can make it difficult to conserve body heat, and some elders may not realize that their body is becoming too cold. Therefore, hypothermia is a serious threat for older people. It’s not difficult for them to become hypothermic if the house is too cold or they are outside in the chill for too long.
A body temperature of 95 degrees Fahrenheit or lower can cause health problems such as a heart attack, kidney damage, or liver damage. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), asthma, arthritis, Raynaud’s Disease, and other autoimmune diseases are also aggravated by cold weather. Certain chronic medical conditions like diabetes and thyroid problems make it hard to maintain a normal body temperature. Parkinson’s disease and arthritis can make it challenging to put on warm clothes. Someone with memory problems may forget what appropriate cold weather attire is. Even some medications can affect body heat, like over-the-counter cold medicines.
Elderly people who live alone may not realize how much their body temperature has dropped. Having a Springpoint at Home Certified Home Health Aide (CHHA) in their life ensures they get dressed appropriately in several thin layers. Having someone in the home to ensure they are wearing a sweater, scarf, and even a hat to keep them warm can be a life saver. Aides can ensure that the thermostat is set high enough to ward off the cold and offer warm beverages and soup throughout the day.
A Springpoint at Home Aging Life Care Advisor™/Care Manager can run errands so that your elder does not have to leave the house in bitter cold weather. They can also schedule delivery services for prescriptions, groceries, and other necessities. They might have the ability to ask the Weatherization Assistance Program to increase the energy efficiency of the home.
Aging Life Care Advisors™/Care Managers and Certified Home Health Aides work as a team to help ensure that seniors keep warm with these guidelines:
- Heat is set to a minimum of 68 degrees Fahrenheit
- Rolled towels are placed in front of doors to keep out a draft
- Request a professional to come and weather strip or caulk gaps around windows
- Place throw blankets throughout the house so one is always available
- Set out warm pajamas or long underwear and even a hat for sleeping
- Ensure there are extra covers on the bed
- Make sure they are eating enough to maintain their weight – some body fat is necessary to stay warm
And let’s not forget one important way to beat the winter blues is through companionship, an important role that both a Springpoint at Home Certified Home Health Aide and an Aging Life Care Advisor™/Care Manager can play.
For more information on Springpoint at Home and how we can help, please call 844-724-1777.