Ways to prevent hypothermia:
• Make sure the home is kept warm by keeping the thermostat set at least 68 to 70 degrees. If the home is kept mildly cool at temperatures between 60 to 65 degrees this can lead to mild hypothermia especially in the elderly.
• Maintain proper humidification in the home. Use a humidifier, or place pans of water on the stove (wood burning) or radiator.
• Make sure the home is properly weatherized. This includes closing all gaps with insulation and caulking.
• Limit your time outdoors. If you must be outside during cold weather, wear warm, layered clothing made of natural fibers. You should wear a hat, warm socks and gloves to reduce heat loss.
• Stay indoors on windy days. Even if the temperature appears to be moderate, wind chill can substantially increase your risk of hypothermia.
• Drink plenty of fluids.
•Avoid alcohol and nicotine.
• Follow a healthy diet. Older adults tend to burn more calories during the winter months due to the body having to create more body heat.
Remember watch the weather forecasts, if they are predicting cold or windy weather then stay inside if at all possible. Homes and apartments with thermostat set between 60 to 65 degrees, can lead to illness. Remember; keep your home warm by setting your thermostat for at least 68 to 70 degrees.
Office for the Aging of Delaware County wishes each and everyone a happy and healthy 2013.
Wayne Shepard is director of the Otsego County Office for the Aging. ‘Senior Scene’ columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/seniorscene.