NIA Offers Booklet on How to Avoid Hypothermia
The National Institute on Aging has a booklet available spelling out the dangers of hypothermia, as well as how folks can avoid it.
Schmalfeldt: Winter is upon us. And that means, in many parts of the country, time to gear up to stay warm. As folks get older, they get more susceptible to a condition known as hypothermia. Now, the National Institute on Aging has a booklet available speling out the dangers of hypothermia, as well as how folks can avoid it — according to Dr. Jack M. Guralnik, Acting Chief, Laboratory of Epidemiology, Demography and Biometry at the NIA.
Guralnik: This booklet points out that hypothermia — which is loss of body temperature — is potentially quite a dangerous condition in older people in the winter time. It gives advice on how to recognize hypothermia and advice on how to deal with it if you believe that someone that you know has it.
Schmalfeldt: Hypothermia occurs when a person's body temperature drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit because of exposure to cold, either indoors or outside. Low body temperature can cause heart attack, kidney problems, liver damage and sometimes death. According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 600 people in the United States, half of them age 65 or older, die from hypothermia each year.
Guralnik: Everybody is actually susceptible to hypothermia if the temperature gets cold enough. So it's both an environmental situation, where people may have houses that can get drafty and quite cold, keeping the thermostat down, or spending too long out of doors without proper clothing, especially on windy days. There are some medical conditions that make people more susceptible to hypothermia — conditions such as stroke, Parkinson's disease, and certain medications can also make people more susceptible.
Schmalfeldt: The booklet, called Stay Safe in Cold Weather! is written in plain language and incorporates colorful graphic elements and other features to help readers understand the content. In creating the new booklet, the NIA publications team talked with older adults and considered the needs of people with limited reading skills. To order free copies or for more information about Stay Safe in Cold Weather! and other NIA publications, visit the NIA Web site at www.nia.nih.gov or call 1-800-222-2225. Bulk orders are welcome. From the National Institutes of Health, I'm Bill Schmalfeldt in Bethesda, Maryland.
About This Audio Report
Reporter: Bill Schmalfeldt
Sound Bite: Dr. Jack Guralnik