From Our 2009 Archives
Oh-So-Cold Temperatures Plague Older People
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SUNDAY, Jan. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Hypothermia, frostbite, and falls are among the winter-related dangers faced by older adults, warns the American Geriatrics Society's Foundation for Health in Aging.
They're more susceptible to hypothermia, or dangerously low body temperature, in part because older people have a slower metabolism and produce less body heat than younger people, the society said. In addition, it added, body changes can make it harder for older people to tell when the outside temperature is too low.
To prevent hypothermia, older adults should:
Call 911 if you think you or someone else has hypothermia.
Frostbite is also a danger in extreme cold. It usually affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers and toes. People with heart disease and other circulation problems are more likely to get frostbite.
To protect against frostbite, you should:
And again, call 911 if you think you or someone else might have frostbite.
Falls are another danger for older adults that become more of an issue during the winter months.
To reduce the risk of falls:
The Foundation for Health in Aging also urges older adults to be cautious about shoveling snow. Cold weather puts extra strain on the heart, and the strain of shoveling could be too much for the heart, especially if you have heart disease. Shoveling can also be dangerous for people with osteoporosis.
Older adults should ask their doctor if it's safe for them to shovel or do other hard work in cold weather.
-- Robert Preidt
SOURCE: American Geriatrics Society, news release, January 2009
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