Extreme cold outside has driven many people to spend time indoors, but even that doesn’t completely protect against health problems from the cold. Emergency Department physician Dr. Tim Dykstra at Pella Regional Health Center says it’s not uncommon for the elderly to become hypothermic inside their homes.
“I’ve seen several cases over the years of elderly folks that were in their house – and of course they want to be cost effective, and that’s certainly understandable – but they keep their thermostats set so low that they can get hypothermia sitting in their own living room.”
Dykstra says even when indoors, a prolonged exposure to cool temperatures can cause a lowering of the body temperature, leading to hypothermia. Dr. Dykstra advises that neighbors or family members should check on elderly residents during extremely cold conditions.
“It’s really important to check on elderly folks during these kind of days,” says Dr. Dykstra. “Really their thermostat should be above 68 degrees during the day, and that’s a good way to ward off the hypothermia.”
The weather forecast for the early part of this week continues to call for frigid temperatures, with highs only in the single digits, and wind chill values approaching 30 degrees below zero.