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Making sure your senior loved one stays warm

When it comes to cold weather, the nursing home staff that takes care of your loved one in New Mexico should pay close attention to your relative’s ability to stay warm. According to the National Institutes of Health website, sicknesses or medical conditions can negatively affect a senior citizen’s ability to maintain proper body heat. So whatever ails your relative may also make it harder for your loved one to keep warm.

While seniors have a reduced ability to stay warm compared to younger people, certain health conditions can make it even harder to retain body heat. For instance, a senior with diabetes has an irregular blood flow, which inhibits the body’s ability to maintain warmth. A person with a thyroid issue also has problems keeping up a regular body temperature.

Some medical issues impact a person’s physical ability to bundle up when needed. An elderly person suffering from arthritis or Parkinson's disease will experience pain or loss of muscle control, making it difficult to perform physical tasks such as putting on clothing or pulling a blanket over. More seriously, an afflicted person might not be able to leave a cold location to seek warmth.

But even if a senior is physically able to put on warm clothing, mental issues can create serious problems keeping warm. An elderly person with memory issues might forget to bundle up before going outside. If the dementia is serious enough, the senior might not even be aware of his or her surroundings and could develop hypothermia by staying too long in a cold place.

Sometimes the medicine a person takes can make it harder to stay warm. A senior could experience lower body temperature from taking prescribed medication or even just pills bought from a store. The Mayo Clinic describes several medications that are susceptible to lowering body heat:

  • sedatives
  • narcotic medicine for pain
  • antidepressants
  • antipsychotic medication

Any of these factors should be considered for your loved one’s care. If you have any concerns about your relative’s ability to keep warm or leave cold surroundings, be sure to address them with the nursing home staff.

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