Don’t Take the Cold Lightly

Older persons don’t notice the cold as quickly as younger people, and they lose body heat faster. But it’s important to maintain a termperature within normal range.

When body temperature falls below 95 degrees F, a person can develop hypothermia, (also known as cold stress), which can be very dangerous.

Here are the early signs of hypothermia:

Cold feet and hands
Puffy or swollen face
Pale skin
Slower than normal speech, slurring
Anger or confusion
Later signs are as follows:

Moving slowly, trouble walking, or being clumsy
Stiff and jerky limb movements
Slow heartbeat
Slow, shallow breathing
Losing consciousness
If any of these signs are present, take the person’s temperature. If it is below 95° call 911 immediately. Begin warming the person:

Wrap the person in a warm blanket.
Warm the center of the body first (chest, neck, head and groin).
Do not rub the person’s legs or arms or warm them in a bath.
Provide warm, non-alcoholic beverages.
Ways to avoid hypothermia:

Avoid cold places and dress warmly.
Set heat to minimum of 68 degrees F.
Eat enough to develop some body fat, which helps keep you warm.
Adapted from National Institute on Aging web article.

This article originally appeared in the Winter 2013-2014 issue of LIFE, CJE SeniorLife's quarterly magazine.