If you work with the elderly as their caregiver, you know that they always seem to be cold. No matter what time of year it is, they have blankets piled on, heavy sweaters adorning their bodies and the heat is cranked (never the air conditioning!). This is not because their normal body temperature itself changes, it is merely due to the fact that the subcutaneous layer of fat below their skin is dissipating, therefore causing them to feel cooler.
It is best to keep your client warm because sharp changes in their body temperature could lead to hypothermia; a dangerous drop in body temperature. To offset the abnormally high temperatures, wear layers!
Besides always feeling cold, the fact remains that as a person ages, their ability to sweat decreases and they have a difficult time telling when they are becoming overheated. In certain situations, this could lead to hyperthermia or heat stroke.
It is also good to be aware when your client is under the weather. If they are running a fever, this is normally a good indication that they are ill. The unfortunate part of the matter is that sometimes they will carry a fever for days before the illness rears its ugly head. If this is the case with your client, it is best to get them to their doctor – just to be certain! The doctor will be able to tell if the fever is indicative of anything serious.
On the flipside, an elderly individual may not have the stamina left to produce a higher temperature. If they are under the weather, it is best to take them to see their physician who will be able to check for other noticeable differences that a caregiver may not be able to readily see. The other vital signs as well as other internal symptoms can be read much easier by a doctor than a non-medical person.
What you always need to remember is that you are your client’s first line of defense. It is best to keep your senses on high alert thus showing the world that you believe that With Age Come Respect!