Extreme temperatures can be a significant health and safety hazard for nursing home residents. While extreme heat can cause dehydration, heat stroke, and other heat-related illnesses, extreme cold can cause hypothermia, frostbite, and other cold-related illnesses. In either case, nursing home staff must ensure that their residents are safe and comfortable in all types of weather.
Understanding the Risk of Extreme Heat
Heat-related illnesses can be hazardous for elderly nursing home residents, who are more likely to suffer from chronic health conditions that extreme temperatures can worsen. The most common heat-related illnesses include dehydration, exhaustion, cramps, and stroke. Dehydration occurs when the body loses more fluids than it takes in. It can cause fatigue, headache, dizziness, and confusion. Heat exhaustion is a mild heat stroke characterized by heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, and nausea. A lack of electrolytes causes heat cramps and can cause intense muscle pain. Heat stroke is the most severe heat-related illness when the body cannot cool itself. Symptoms include high body temperature, rapid pulse, confusion, and loss of consciousness.
Preventing Heat-Related Illnesses
Nursing home staff must take steps to prevent heat-related illnesses in their residents. The first step is ensuring that the nursing home is well-ventilated and the temperature is comfortable. Residents should also be encouraged to drink plenty of fluids, especially water, and to take frequent breaks in a cool, shaded area. Nursing home staff should also be on the lookout for signs of heat-related illnesses and provide prompt medical attention if any are observed.
Understanding the Risk of Extreme Cold
Extreme cold can also pose a severe health risk to nursing home residents. Some of the most common cold-related illnesses include hypothermia, frostbite, and chilblains. Hypothermia occurs when the body's temperature drops below 95°F. Symptoms include shivering, slurred speech, confusion, and loss of consciousness. Frostbite occurs when the skin and underlying tissues freeze and is characterized by numbness, tingling, and loss of feeling. Chilblains are caused by exposure to cold and damp conditions and can cause itching, burning, and skin swelling.
Preventing Cold-Related Illnesses
Nursing home staff must take steps to prevent cold-related illnesses in their residents. The first step is to ensure that the nursing home is well-insulated and that the temperature is kept at a comfortable level. Residents should also be encouraged to dress warmly and to take frequent breaks in a warm, dry area. Nursing home staff should also be on the lookout for signs of cold-related illnesses and provide prompt medical attention if any are observed.
San Jose Elder Abuse Attorneys
If you are concerned about the health and safety of your loved one in a nursing home, consider getting professional help. The experienced attorneys at Needham Kepner & Fish LLP are here to help. Our attorneys have extensive experience in cases involving nursing home abuse and neglect, and we are dedicated to helping you get the justice and compensation you deserve. Contact us at (408) 716-1668 today to learn more about how we can help.