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Cold weather can be dangerous to seniors

As Missouri progresses further into the cold winter months, we should remember that seniors are especially vulnerable to frigid temperatures. For this reason, nursing homes should take all appropriate steps to keep their residents warm. Many nursing home residents are not only older, but have various health conditions that make them even more susceptible to health problems resulting from cold weather.

The National Institutes of Health explains that seniors exposed to the cold for too long may develop hypothermia. Hypothermia is very dangerous because it leads to an assortment of conditions that could endanger the life of an elderly person. These may include kidney trouble, damage to the liver, a heart attack, or something else that could cause someone to die.

The cold is also a threat to many nursing home seniors because they cannot physically prepare for it. Sufferers of Parkinson’s disease, arthritis or other muscle or pain disorders cannot dress by themselves very easily, if at all. Some nursing home residents also require help to get around and might not be able to easily leave a location that is too cold without aid.

Nursing home residents should also plan for residents who have mental impairments. A resident may forget to put on warm clothing before stepping outside. Dementia sufferers may not know where they are and wander outside in the cold. Not knowing how to seek help, they could stay outside too long and develop hypothermia, which may lead to death before aid arrives.

Other factors can make it hard for the elderly to keep warm. Diabetes and thyroid conditions can negatively affect body temperature. Medications taken by seniors can cause a loss of body heat. Some seniors struggle with staying active, which puts them at risk to the cold since activity helps a person to stay warm. Lack of food and nutrition may also cause loss of body fat that would otherwise help someone ward off colder temperatures.

Nursing homes that neglect the needs of their residents is a very serious matter. There are many reasons that nursing home residents need proper care to ward off the dangers of the cold, and if a nursing home is negligent, someone could die as a result. Families who experience the tragic loss of a loved one due to negligent action may benefit from legal guidance on the matter.