"Senior citizens take a lot longer for them to get from point a to point b so they're exposed to the cold much more frequently," says nurse practitioner Susan Lindberg. "The clothing often gets a little bit cumbersome so they tend lots of times not to wear heavy clothing."
The elderly also don't feel the cold the same as their younger counterparts. That leads to a greater chance of hypothermia. Lindberg says about 50% of hypothermia cases happen to those over the age of 70. In fact, she says senior citizens feel the cold inside more than the outside--that means space heaters in their homes. But Lindberg says they're designed so they take up a lot of oxygen in the room, so carbon monoxide poisoning levels can be high. Also, we can all slip on ice, but for seniors, their bones are more fragile, and falling can have more serious consequences. There are things though we do to help out during the winter.
"I think that anyone who has an elderly neighbor, or a parent that's elderly try and allow them to give them transportation so that somebody is with them when they're going to doctor's offices or even when they're going shopping. Most elderly have a very specific routine."
But we all want to maintain our independence, so Lindberg has some tips to dealing with that very issue.
"My parents are both 90 so they want to be independent, they are living independent, but they also do need some help. Part of it is the way you present to them. You can tell them that you want them to be independent but you also want them to be safe."
She suggests keeping communication open when it comes to doctor's appointments and shopping trips. It's important to give seniors their independence, but there's nothing wrong with keeping an eye on our elders.