Hypothermia in Elderly

see also Hypothermia

Develops when body temperature drops below 35°C (95°F); with age, the body becomes less efficient at monitoring temperature and less able to maintain core temperature when surroundings are cold. Symptoms are apathy, unwillingness to move or speak, Confusion, and abnormal sleepiness or drowsiness; person's hands and feet feel cold, but surer sign of low body temperature is a cold abdomen. If hypothermia persists person becomes unconscious; death then follows within a few hours. Once temperature has fallen to 25°C (77°F), odds against recovery are 3 to 1.

Prevention: If you have an elderly relative or neighbour who is house-bound or an invalid, and on a low income, visit him or her as often as possible in cold weather. If he or she is not eating properly or not using heating because of the cost, he or she may be eligible for meals on wheels (contact local social services department) or attendance or allowance, or help with fuel bills, draught-proofing, extra clothes or blankets, etc. (your local post office or Social Security office will have leaflets). A temperature of less than 20º C (68°F) in a living room or bedroom is too low.

See Hypothermia for Self Help / Remedies.

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