The Dangers of Hypothermia

The cold weather is upon us! While some people enjoy the snow and cold and others can’t wait for summer to return, none can deny that winter can produce some dangers, especially for older people. Not only are there slippery sidewalks to contend with, but also the possibility of hypothermia.

Hypothermia is a drop in body temperature that is caused by staying in a cool place for too long. This may bring to mind images of someone who is lost outside in a blizzard, but hypothermia can strike a person in their own home where the heat is turned down too low. A body temperature below 96 degrees can cause an irregular heartbeat leading to heart problems and even death, if not treated promptly. Hypothermia is especially dangerous because it happens gradually and affects your thinking. You may not even realize you need help!

As caregivers, it important to be aware of the symptoms and risks of hypothermia as people with advanced age are especially vulnerable. When checking in on your relatives, friends or neighbors, be especially aware of the symptoms of hypothermia.

  • Confusion or sleepiness
  • Slowed, slurred speech or shallow breathing
  • Weak pulse or low blood pressure
  • Cold, pale skin
  • A lot of shivering or stiffness in the arms or legs
  • Chilly rooms or other signs that they have been in a cold place
  • Poor control over body movements or slow reactions

If you think someone may have hypothermia, take his/her temperature and if it doesn’t rise above 96 degrees, call 9-1-1. Then keep the person warm and dry by moving them to a warmer place, wrapping the person in blankets or coats or using your own body warmth by lying close to them. Do not rub their arms or legs as this can result in skin tears. Once at the emergency room, the doctor will verify the diagnosis and then warm the person’s body from the inside out. It is very important that a person with hypothermia is treated by a physician.

Sometimes people are tempted to turn their thermostats down too low as a way of saving money on their energy bill, but this can result in a dangerous situation. It is essential for people keep their home warm, especially on those days and weeks where the temperatures stay near zero. To be safe, your thermostat should be set for at least 68 degrees. Even temperatures between 60 and 65 can lead to illness.

There are some things you can do to keep yourself warm and cut down on heating costs. First, you can get ideas on reducing your heating bill by calling your power or gas company for information on weatherizing your home. Ideas such as closing vents and doors to rooms you are not using can cut your energy usage. Also, wearing several layers of loose clothing will keep you warmer while tight clothing can keep your blood from flowing freely. And lastly, eating enough food to keep up your body weight can also keep you warmer.

Jane Mahoney
Older American’s Act Consultant
Greater Wisconsin Agency on Aging Resources

Submitted by:
Tammy Sullivan
Home Care Solutions
952-924-0677
caremaster25@gmail.com
HomeCareSolutionsMN.com

When Care At Home Is No Longer Possible

While you and other families provide 75 percent of long-term care in this country, at some point it may become impossible to provide care in the home. Necessary care may be too specialized, too expensive, or may be required 24 hours a day. For many families, moving a loved one to a residential care setting is the most difficult decision they will ever face.

Residential Care May Be The Right Decision If:
  •  The person has health needs that can’t be met at home.
  • The caregiver is emotionally and physically exhausted and family and community resources have already been tried.
  • The person can’t be safely cared for at home.
  • The caregiver’s safety is at risk.
  • Although the person you care for may not need residential care now, it’s smart to prepare for that possibility. It’s stressful to arrange for care during a crisis; you may find yourself with care you would not have chosen if you had more preparation time.
Read More»

Care Management: What it is and how we help

Geriatric Care Managers, also known as Care Consultants, Care Coordinators or Elder Care Managers are professionals who specialize in working with seniors and their families to coordinate their care needs. A Geriatric Care Manager may be a nurse, social worker, counselor, psychologist or gerontologist who has training and experience specifically in working with older people.  Geriatric Care Managers help with short-term projects or can be involved in a more on-going relationship. Geriatric Care Managers offer a large variety of services to assist older people and their families in meeting their care needs.

Geriatric Care Managers can:

Read More»

Downsizing

Spring will be here before we know it and with it HOME SELLS.  The market is about to open up again and perhaps you are looking to put your house on the market.  Many people choosing to sell are looking to move into a smaller home and NOW is a perfect time to get ready.

Now (during our cold winter months)is a good time to do things that does not involve being outside like finding a realtor, doing small interior repairs if needed,sprucing up the home and DOWNSIZING.

Downsizing can seem a little daunting and overwhelming but it doesn’t have to be. I would like to give you

TEN HELPFUL SUGGESTIONS FOR DOWNSIZING

Read More»

Home Sweet Home: Making Home More Enjoyable for the Golden Years

According to AARP, 89% of Americans want to stay in their current home as long as they can.  Over the next 20 years, the Boomer Generation will start to look at their ho using options, and the prospect of going to live in a nursing home is not on their radar screen.

There’s a growing movement called “Aging in Place.”  It means remaining in one’s home safely and independently for as long as possible, and this usually requires making modifications to the home.

Read More»

Non-Medical Home Care vs. Home Health

Submitted by Paul Blom, Right At Home

Whether you have an aging parent or an ailing spouse, most of us are familiar with the concept of home health care. Even if we have no first-hand exposure, few people aren’t aware that you can hire an agency to provide regular visits by a home health aid to provide bathing, transferring and other medically-related services for your loved one.  Many times these services are almost automatic when a loved one is being discharged from a nursing home or rehabilitation center and often are covered by Medicare or other insurances.  Unfortunately those funds quickly run out, many times prior to the time that the patient is actually able to remain in their home without some sort of assistance.  Usually, that assistance becomes the responsibility of the family.

Read More»