Snowy days in New York City can be fun times for the state’s younger citizens, but it is a different story when it comes to the seniors of the Empire State. As temperatures fall, seniors are at greater health risk if they are exposed to the colder air. This is especially true when it comes to elderly New Yorkers who reside in nursing homes, who may be more infirm than seniors living at home and depend on caregivers to get around.
Aging Care explains that seniors are at special risk from the cold weather because they possess less fat on their bodies, have slower metabolism and a decreased rate of blood circulation. Cold air can also dehydrate a senior more quickly because seniors do not eat and drink as much as younger individuals. And with ice and snow covering New York sidewalks, the risk of a senior slipping and falling is much greater.
Cold weather can even harm a senior who is indoors. Nursing homes must take care to make sure seniors are dressed warmly even if they are in their rooms. Also, the temperature of the nursing home should be set at a warm temperature. A thermostat set at less than 65 degrees can put a person who is seventy five years old or older at serious risk of hypothermia.
Additionally, winter can pose special challenges for seniors with dementia. A Place For Mom points out that with winter comes lower degrees of sunlight, which can cause seniors with Alzheimer’s or different forms of dementia to go through periods of anger, confusion and loss of memory. Since dementia sufferers already experience these issues during the night, winter only compounds the problem for these seniors if they are not kept active.
The added challenges for seniors during winter means a nursing home should have clear procedures in mind for keeping their residents warm. If you have concerns about how your senior relative will be treated in the cold weather months, do not hesitate to bring them up to the nursing home staff.