Holly Springs, NC (PressExposure) February 03, 2009 -- The blanket of winter white that's covering parts of the country may make for picture perfect landscapes. But there's nothing pretty about the frigid cold and it could be deadly for seniors in ways many families don't even know about. That's why Senior Helpers, the fastest growing provider of in-home care for seniors, is advising families to frequently check on the health of their elderly loved ones during this brutal cold snap.
"While we're all familiar with the dangers of senior citizens falling on ice, there are even greater risks for seniors when the weather gets cold that most of us don't think of, such as hypothermia and dehydration, advises Peter Ross, founder and CEO of Senior Helpers. "Hypothermia and dehydration are so dangerous because even mild cold temperatures can cause problems for the elderly. That's why if you can't check up on your elderly loved one, hire someone who can. "
Consider hypothermia (when core body temp drops below the normal 98.6 degrees)
â¢ Every year, hypothermia kills about 600 Americans, half of whom are 65 or older, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. â¢ Not just outside. Even inside home temps of 60-65 degrees can trigger hypothermia in seniors because their bodies have less insulating fat and less muscle, their metabolism is slower, and they're less active which means their bodies generate less heat. Plus, certain illnesses and medicines slow their body's responses to cold. â¢ Many of the aging live on fixed incomes and in this recession can't afford high heating bills. â¢ Some don't feel temperature drops because of dementia or medications that fog awareness. â¢ Symptoms: (shivering, grogginess and muddled thinking. Pulse and breathing are normal at first, but slow as the condition worsens)
Consider dehydration: (excessive loss of body water)
"Dehydration is probably the biggest risk for seniors because while it's a problem for everyone, we don't realize how quickly it can become extremely dangerous when you're older," says Ross. "The problem is that people don't feel as thirsty in winter so they drink less water, which can lead to dehydration."
â¢ Our bodies are 60-70% water. After age 60, that drops to about 50% water. â¢ Seniors get dehydrated much quicker because they're not eating or drinking as much so they take in less water. â¢ Dehydration leaves the body more susceptible to colds, headaches/disorientation, and heart disease. Chronically dehydrated seniors can develop kidney stones and arthritis. â¢ Older people who drink enough water tend to have fewer falls, use fewer laxatives, have less constipation and show improved rehabilitation in orthopedic patients as well as a reduction in bladder cancer (among men). â¢ Symptoms: ( dry, sticky mouth, muscle weakness, dizziness, little or no urination or urine a dark yellow or amber color, sunken eyes, rapid heartbeat, fever)
What You Can Do To Protect Your Elderly Loved Ones:
During severe winter weather, check on your elderly loved ones often. â¢ Keep the heat set on at least 68 - 70 degrees. Seniors often lower the thermostat to save money. â¢ Take their body temperature at least once a week. â¢ Make sure they're dressed warmly (indoor hat, long underwear, blanket for legs and shoulders). â¢ Make sure they don't drink alcohol at bedtime because when it gets cold, alcoholic drinks make you lose body heat faster. â¢ Check they drink water, eat and have enough food stocked up. Share a snack when you visit or bring in prepared meals.
Tell the story of seniors and winter weather. We can provide:
â¢ Interviews/photos/b-roll with elderly care experts who can talk about dehydration, hypothermia and other winter dangers for the elderly. â¢ Interviews/photos/b-roll with caregivers and families.
This story touches a huge portion of your readers/listeners/viewers this winter. We'll develop the story for you and set up all the interviews and photo/b-roll opportunities you need right in your area. This is an important issue and we want to help educate your readers/viewers.