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    Diane Atwood: Elderly are more susceptible to hypothermia

    From:NEWS CENTER   View:1057   Date:2015-02-04

    When it's as cold out as it is right now, hypothermia is a big risk. Diane Atwood, who writes the blog Catching Health, is here to tell us why some people are at risk even if they don't go outside.

    Atwood says that hypothermia can kill you. And the risk increases with age, especially after age 75.

    She says oil may be cheaper right now, but that really doesn't help a lot of people who still struggle to pay for food, clothes and medicine for themselves and their families. And when you consider elderly people — many of them are on fixed incomes.

    When it comes to preventing hypothermia in older people there are several risk factors they make them more vulnerable. Here are a few from Atwood:

    Why Elderly People Are at Risk

    -Metabolism is slower, making it harder to maintain a normal body temperature if the room temperature gets below about 65°F.

    - Elderly people are more likely to have chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes or an under active thyroid.

    -They're more likely to take medications that may change how the body regulates temperature.

    "Our bodies are pretty amazing, don't you think. When they're working right, it's like we've got a thermostat inside. If we're too hot, we sweat in order to cool off and when we're too cold, we shiver to stay warm. Trouble is, when you're elderly, you don't shiver as much as you used to," she states.

    Atwood goes on to say "Something else I've noticed is that whenever I visit my mother, who is 88, she has the thermostat up to about 80 — I could be exaggerating. But seriously, what may seem warm when we're young may not be warm enough for an elderly person. Ideally the thermostat should be set between 68°F and 70°F. Even just slightly lower can trigger hypothermia in a frail, elderly person."

    "So … a take home message for all of us … if you know of an older person who lives alone or you think might be at risk, check in.
    Make sure he or she is ok."

    If you go to CatchingHealth.com, you'll find hypothermia warning signs, what to do if you suspect it and some prevention tips.

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