Uncomfortable nursing home resident covered in blankets trying to stay warmWhen you admit your loved one to a nursing home or long-term care facility, you expect the facility and its staff to provide a homelike environment that ensures their health and comfort. But to do so, the overall climate in a facility must be properly regulated to provide optimum care. A nursing home health study in the scientific journal ScienceNordic specifically pointed out that, “The indoor climate in nursing homes can play a significant role in residents' health” as a reminder of that necessity.

Temperatures that are too hot or cold can cause emotional and physical distress that may contribute to a decline in your loved one's health. Because of this, federal regulations regarding quality of life in nursing homes require staff to maintain safe and comfortable temperature levels at all times:

Federal Regulation 42 CFR 483.15 “Quality of Life” states that facilities initially certified after October 1990 must maintain a temperature range of 71 to 81 degrees.

Beyond general comfort, it’s important to note that “climate” also refers to the air quality of a facility. The ScienceNordic study revealed that a facility’s air quality could have a greater negative impact on the health of the elderly than on younger individuals. For example, an excess of airborne substances, pollutants and irritants like mildew, mold and chemical cleaners can cause lung irritation and may lead to breathing problems and cardiovascular distress in residents.

When visiting or searching for the right nursing home for your loved one, consider the climate as one of the factors to determine if the facility maintains a positive quality of life, or is instead a detriment.

What you should look out for:

  • How is the facility’s air quality? Is the air hot and dry? Warm and moist? Cold and dry? Damp and clammy?
  • Does it seem that there is a constant odor resembling mildew or chemicals?
  • Is there good air circulation or is it stagnant?
  • Does bedding have protective covers to eliminate dust mites and bacterial issues?
  • Does the facility use chemical cleaners that impact the air quality?
  • Can a resident control the temperature in his or her room?

Some medical conditions and medications that elderly residents are prescribed can also affect their ability to regulate body temperature, making a temperate climate even more important. Older adults are often less active and generate less body heat which is a hypothermia risk under colder conditions. And age also causes a decrease in perspiration, which prevents the body’s natural mechanism for self-cooling under hotter conditions.

Please be vigilant of your loved one’s care, and be sure to ask whether they’ve been comfortable in the facility’s climate. If you discover that your loved one is living in an unsafe or unhealthy climate, contact the facility’s administration right away, and consider getting in touch with an experienced nursing home abuse and neglect attorney from Hupy and Abraham. Feel free to call Hupy and Abraham at 800-800-5678 with any of your nursing home-related questions, or start a live chat with us anytime at Hupy.com.