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Hypothermia and Frostbite Risks in Older Adults
Submitted by Comfort Keepers


The winter season presents specific risks and challenges that can be critical for older adults.  When the temperature drops, older adults run a higher risk of health problems and injuries related to the weather.  It is important that they, and their caregivers, take certain precautions during the winter months. Hypothermia and frostbite are among the most common risk factors for older adults this time of year.

Hypothermia
Hypothermia occurs when the body temperature falls below 95 degrees and can’t produce enough energy to stay warm enough.  A drop in body temperature in older adults increase the risks associated with limited ability to communicate, impaired mobility, less subcutaneous fat, and a diminished ability to sense temperature. 

Symptoms of hypothermia include:
• Shivering
• Cold skin that is pale or ashy
• Lack of coordination
• Increased mental confusion
• Slower reactions
• Unsteady breathing or heart rate
• Weakness
•Sleepiness

Frostbite
Frostbite can cause grave damage to the frail skin of older adults and progress to the bone.  Frostbite usually affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers, and toes.  Older adults with heart disease and other circulation problems are at higher risk.  To prevent increased risk of frostbite in older adults, be sure to cover up all parts of the body with layers before going outside.  If the skin turns red, dark or starts to hurt, it is time to go inside right away.

Symptoms of frostbite include:
• White, ashy or grayish-yellow skin
• Skin feels hard or waxy
• Skin feels numb when touched
Winter poses challenges for seniors, but with awareness and planning, they will stay healthy, happy and ready for spring!
Comfort Keepers trained caregivers provide older adults with the highest quality of life possible using our Interactive Caregiving philosophy – a system of care that addresses safety, nutrition, mind, body, and activities of daily living (ADLs) all year round. Comfort Keepers has set out on a mission to provide the care and services necessary to maintain the independence and quality of life for the elderly and seniors in the community throughout every season of the year. 

For more information on Comfort Keepers, call (412) 653-6100 or visit them  online at Pittsburgh-247.ComfortKeepers.com

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