• Which is More Dangerous to Seniors: Excessive Heat or Excessive Cold?


    Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

    If you’ve ever wondered which is more uncomfortable – excessive heat or excessive cold –  you probably came to your own conclusions based on your personal preferences. But when it comes to which is more dangerous, and especially for vulnerable seniors, the question takes on a much more serious tone and is a bit more challenging to answer, especially if you’re concerned about a relative living in a residential care facility and dependent upon others for their well being. Though statistically speaking, cold weather is twice as deadly overall as hot weather, with far more cold-related deaths occurring in the United States than those related to heat, excessive heat or excessive cold are both dangerous for the elderly. Older bodies do not adjust as well as younger, healthier ones to sudden changes in temperature, and older people are more likely to be taking medications that can impact their bodies’ ability to regulate their temperature.  Failure to keep a resident safe from excessive temperatures at one extreme or the other can be signs of nursing home abuse or neglect.

    The Impact of Excessive Heat on an Elderly Person

    One of the biggest dangers that high temperatures pose for elderly people is the fact that they may have a chronic medical condition that impacts their bodies’ ability to react to heat, or which makes them prone to more extreme symptoms. Elderly people exposed to high temperatures are vulnerable to:

    • Heat stroke
    • Heat exhaustion
    • Muscle cramps
    • Fainting
    • Dizziness
    • Exhaustion or Fatigue
    • Weak but Fast pulse
    • Vomiting and nausea

    The Impact of Excessive Cold on an Elderly Person

    Excessive cold’s dangers are two-fold: the cold itself can have a physical effect, and can also make an elderly person more vulnerable to other illnesses.  Extreme cold weather can lead to hypothermia, frostbite, trench foot, chilblains, Raynaud’s phenomenon and even cold-induced hives. The body initially responds to extreme cold with shivering, an increased heart rate and a decrease in coordination which then progresses into stupor, drowsiness, an inability to walk, and shallow breathing. The elderly can easily stop breathing or fall into a coma as their blood pressure becomes extremely low or even absent.

    Nursing home facilities accept responsibility for the wellbeing of their residents. They have a duty of care to ensure that the temperatures in their facility are comfortable and do not present a danger. If you are aware that a loved one has been exposed to an extreme temperature, contact us today to learn more about how you can protect their rights.


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