Avoiding hypothermia: Elderly care advice

April, 2013

As the winter months approach our medical advice for the elderly looks at ways your relatives can help protect themselves against the cold. Hypothermia is a condition in which the core temperature drops below the required temperature for normal metabolism and body functions to operate.

Information for elderly persons from the NHS indicate that last year alone over 1,400 of over 65’s were admitted to hospital with hypothermia, with numbers doubling over the last 5 years. The elderly are particularly susceptible to contracting hypothermia so if you are providing home care for elderly people then the following measures should help to keep them warm and healthy:

  • Keep all the windows closed in cold weather.

  • Install an easy-to-read wall thermometer. The temperature in the room where they spend most of their time should be at least 20°C (68°F).

  • Make sure that their home is warm before getting out of bed in the morning.

  • Make them at least one hot meal and several hot drinks each day.

  • Encourage them to move around at least hourly to create their own heat.

  • Provide them with several layers of clothing to trap warm air.

  • Suggest they wear a hat to prevent loss of body heat through the scalp.

  • If their clothes get wet, change them into dry clothes as soon as possible to prevent the moisture in the clothes from conducting heat away from the body.

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