School is back in session, a sure sign that the temperatures will start dropping as late fall approaches and turns into winter. As the body ages, it becomes more vulnerable to the chill of the air. In a weakened condition the body can't fight the germs that cause sickness, starting with colds through pneumonia and flu.
Anyone affected by Alzheimer's or dementia might not realize a drop in body temperature (hypothermia).
Mild cases of hypothermia can occur from a breeze, fan, or cooling system in the house. Keep a shawl or sweater where the senior will easily find it and put it on or around their shoulders to ward off the cold. If you are a senior citizen follow these four steps to protect yourself. Caregivers can follow these tips to protect their loved one or friend from the cold.
1. Look at the weather forecast for the week ahead to plan days out. Stay inside on windy and cold days. If you go out, wear warm clothing, gloves, and a hat.
2. Avoid cold places and stay aware of how other people are reacting to the environment. Age reduces your body's awareness of cold, so if others are dressed for chilly weather, put your winter gear back on.
3. Wear layers. Loose clothing traps warm air between each layer and reduces the risk of hypothermia.
4. Carry a thermal blanket in the car. It will keep you warm while waiting for help if the car has a flat tire or other problem while you are out on the road.
Contact your local Senior Center for other tips on staying healthy and safe during the cool months ahead.