SUNDAY, Feb. 6 (HealthDay News) -- In cold weather, older adults are especially vulnerable to hypothermia, and they and their loved ones need to take steps to prevent this potentially deadly condition.
Hypothermia occurs when a person's body temperature drops below normal and remains there for an extended length of time. As people age, their bodies are less able to endure long periods of exposure to cold, according to the U.S. National Institute on Aging (NIA).
In addition, illnesses and certain types of medications can reduce the ability of an elderly person's body to respond to cold. Seniors also tend to be less active and generate less body heat than younger people, which means they may develop hypothermia after exposure to relatively mild cold weather or a small drop in temperature.
Signs of hypothermia include slow or slurred speech, confusion or sleepiness, shivering, stiffness in the arms and legs, weak pulse, slow reactions and poor control of body movements. If a person's temperature is 96 degrees or lower, call 911.
The NIA offers the following hypothermia prevention tips for seniors:
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about hypothermia.
-- Robert Preidt
SOURCE: U.S. National Institute on Aging, news release, Feb. 2, 2011
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