Home > Information Center > Press Releases > Feb-05-11 Mercer County, NIH offers advice for older adults to avoid Hypothermia
Feb-05-11 Mercer County, NIH offers advice for older adults to avoid Hypothermia
MEDIA CONTACT: Julie Willmot
TRENTON, N.J. - Older adults are especially vulnerable to a drop below normal body temperature, called hypothermia, which can be deadly if not treated quickly. Mercer County Office on Aging and the National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health, have some advice to help older people avoid hypothermia.
Hypothermia occurs when a person's body temperature drops below normal and stays low for a prolonged period of time. With advancing age, the body's ability to endure long periods of exposure to cold is reduced.
Older people also are at risk for hypothermia because their bodies’ responses to cold can be diminished by certain illnesses, such as diabetes, and by some medicines, including over-the-counter cold remedies. In addition, older adults may be less active and generate less body heat. As a result, hypothermia may develop even after exposure to relatively mild cold weather or a small drop in temperature.
A good way to identify someone with hypothermia is to look for confusion or sleepiness, slowed or slurred speech, shivering or stiffness in the arms and legs, weak pulse, poor control over body movements or slow reactions. If a thermometer is available, temperature should be measured. If it’s 96 degrees or lower, call 911 for emergency help.
Some tips for older people:
The NIA has free information about hypothermia. To order the fact sheet, Hypothermia: A Cold Weather Hazard, or the brochure, Stay Safe in Cold Weather, call toll free 1-800-222-2225. Hipotermia: el peligro de las bajas temperaturas is also available or go online at www.nia.nih.gov.