It’s the chilliest time of the year for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, and most of the country is experiencing especially cold weather at the moment, particularly in the North. in the North: Overnight low temperatures across the country, from Boston to Seattle and everywhere in between are forecast to be below freezing in the days ahead. Icy cold weather puts seniors at risk so it’s important to pay special attention to their well being during this time.
Elderly people with frail health are especially vulnerable to extremes in temperature, whether it be be hot or cold. In the case of cold weather, seniors even risk hypothermia in their own homes in cases when the temperature falls below about 60 degrees, says Jennifer Tapner, a registered nurse at an assisted living community in Philadelphia, who was quoted in a recent CBS article. Alzheimer’s and dementia can add to the risk when seniors don’t remember to dress appropriately or take measures to keep warm. For this reason experts recommend that, during periods of cold weather, families and neighbors keep a particularly watchful eye on seniors who live alone. Neighbors and caregivers of seniors should make sure that their loved ones’ houses are warm enough, and that they have enough blankets.
Falls caused by ice are another danger to seniors during cold spells. In a recent Associated Press International article, Dr. David Zich of Northwestern Medical Hospital in Chicago advises neighbors to offer to take out the trash for elderly people in the neighborhood so that they don’t risk slipping in the ice.