We don't know the circumstances yet, but KOMO news reports that an 88-year-old woman has died of exposure/hypothermia outside of a Longview retirement home.
Norma Jeannette Sheldon's body was discovered at 1:18am outside the facility where she lived. The temperature was 28 degrees at the time.
Hypothermia occurs when a person's body temperature drops below 95.0 degrees. The elderly are more vulnerable to hypothermia because their bodies are not able to regulate the temperature well enough. The elderly with dementia are at risk for wandering outside, getting confused or list lost resulting in being stranded outside.
The Washington Deport of Health will investigate the circumstances of the woman's death. An investigation may determine that the nursing home was not doing its job in caring for its patients. How tragic for this woman and her family to have her freeze to death.
Elderly people with dementia or Alzheimer's disease have a tendency to wander. Nursing homes have an obligation to protect their residents from injuries. A story like this one in Longview is not unheard of. Many times, in cases such as this one, they are a result of nursing home neglect.
An investigation should determine whether there were cameras to monitor patients and if there was adequate supervision. Another fact that must be determined is whether a door was left unlocked. In some cases an employee taking a smoke break may result in an unlocked door.