They are at higher risk because they tend to lose body heat more quickly

Staff report


When snow falls and the mercury plunges, the Ohio Department of Aging reminds residents to call or visit older friends, neighbors and loved ones to ensure they have what they need to stay warm and healthy.

The department said in a news release that older adults are at higher risk because they tend to lose body heat more quickly and are more likely to take medications that affect their ability to regulate body temperature.

As a result, they are at higher risk for complications from hypothermia, frostbite and other cold-weather illnesses and injuries.

Things to check for older adults include:

Are they staying warm? Is their heating system working properly and set at a reasonable temperature? Are they using portable heaters safely? Do they have an adequate supply of fuel, if appropriate?

Do they need medical attention? Do they have symptoms of cold-related illness, such as shivering, exhaustion, confusion, memory loss, slurred speech or white/grayish skin color? Do they depend on oxygen? Are they out of or running low on any medications or medical supplies? Have they fallen?

Do they have an adequate food supply and a safe way to prepare meals? Do they have nonperishable food that can be prepared without electricity? Do they have plenty of clean drinking water?

Can they get help if they need it? Do they have access to a phone that works, even if the power goes out? Do they know who they will contact if they need assistance?

The department says confusion and disorientation can be symptoms of hypothermia, dehydration or stress and may have nothing to do with the person’s age. If someone seems ill, call 911.

Ohio’s area agencies on aging can provide services and link individuals to local resources for food, warming centers and other help. Call 866-243-5678 to be connected to the agency serving your community, or visit for contact information.