Older adults are especially susceptible to hypothermia even after mild exposure to cold temperatures. Hypothermia is a significant and potentially dangerous drop in body temperature, generally defined as having a core body temperature below 95 degrees.
Signs and symptoms may include slow or slurred speech, puffy or swollen face, sleepiness or confusion, shivering, stiffness in the arms and legs, slow reactions, and/or a weak pulse.
The National Institute on Aging offers the following advice to help older adults avoid hypothermia:
- When going outside in the cold, it is important to wear a hat, scarf, and gloves or mittens to prevent loss of body heat through your head and hands.
- Check with your doctor to see if any of your prescription or over-the-counter medications may increase your risk for hypothermia.
- Make sure your home is warm. Some experts suggest that, for older people, set the temperature to at least
If you suspect or observe hypothermia, call 911.