Canadian winters typically present a variety of challenges for the senior population. Harsh conditions and frigid temperatures can result in all kinds of problems and health risks for older adults. Seniors are generally more vulnerable to hypothermia due to the body no longer being able to hold heat as efficiently as well as underlying medical issues.
The cold temperatures create a higher risk for seniors to become hypothermic, so it is important for seniors and their caregivers to remain aware and vigilant of the ways they can work to prevent it. Hypothermia is a genuine concern when caring for seniors, and it should be remembered that it can even happen indoors if the place is not properly heated.
Hypothermia develops when the body begins to lose faster than it is being produced. This is especially problematic for seniors as they struggle more to produce body heat and then also have a greater challenge retaining it. As we get older, the layer of fat under the skin becomes thinner making it more difficult to lock in the heat.
Hypothermia can cause body temperature to drop to dangerous levels which can lead to various problems within the body or even death in severe circumstances. There are some ways to identify hypothermia in its early stages so that medical assistance can be sought promptly. The following are indicators of a hypothermic state:
It is important to note that individuals entering a hypothermic state will not necessarily be shivering or complaining of feeling cold, so keeping an eye out for these other symptoms can help family members and caregivers spot the issue.
Should you suspect hypothermia, seek medical assistance immediately and make sure your loved one has somewhere dry, warm, and comfortable to wait for help.
As a result of advanced age, seniors’ bodies are less efficient in the temperature regulation process, meaning they are not always able to feel the full severity of a temperature drop. This biological factor is exacerbated by the possible impacts that medications or symptoms of other chronic health conditions may bring about. In short, the biological factors of aging put older adults at a greater risk of becoming hypothermic in the cold temperatures of Canadian winters.
When it comes to hypothermia prevention, the most important thing to remember is to make sure seniors are kept warm at all times.
Hypothermia can have very harmful impacts on seniors’ health and well-being, but prevention is easily attainable with little thought and planning. Taking some time to put strategies in place and properly equip seniors for the cold can make all the difference.