After our beautifully long summer, we are now moving into autumn and despite how lovely golden leaves and conkers look, the change in seasons can actually be dangerous for the elderly community.
I would like to offer some simple advice on how to keep seniors warm in the winter as well as how to spot the signs of hypothermia.
1. The NHS recommends keeping your main living area at 21°C and the rest of your home at 18°C particularly if you suffer from any form of heart or lung disease.
2. Wear socks and slippers around the house and keep socks on at bedtime. Keeping your extremities warm particularly wearing gloves and a hat outside can help maintain a safe temperature.
3. Ensure carbon monoxide alarms are fitted and regularly test them to make sure that any heaters or fires are safe.
4. Check on elderly friends, family and neighbours regularly to ensure they are comfortable. Some seniors may find it difficult to work their heating and for those with dementia, it is particularly important to make sure any open fires or heaters are out of their reach.
5. Drink plenty of warm drinks to stay hydrated and keep your strength by eating healthy warm meals. Easy meals include warm soups and stews; these can be made in batches, frozen and easily warmed up in the microwave.
Hypothermia is one of the biggest killers of the elderly. In the case of hypothermia, prevention is better than cure, but if you are aware of the following signs, it is easier to treat.
- Initial symptoms of hypothermia include shivering, fatigue, quickened breathing and cold skin.
- As the individual gets colder, the shaking can become more violent or even suddenly stop depending on how cold they’ve become.
- The person is then likely to grow delirious and extremely sleepy as well struggle to breathe.
Once initial signs have been spotted, it is important to recognise that hypothermia is a medical emergency and attention should be sought immediately. Whilst waiting for medical assistance, wrap the individual in blankets and ensure they are in a warm environment. Do not leave them alone at any point.