Old man winter is here, and temperatures across the country are falling—even as far south as South Florida. With many of us unprepared for the colder weather, it’s always good to have reminders of ways that we can stay warm, especially for older adults whose bodies lose heat at a faster rate than younger people.
If you are caring for a senior loved one, it’s important to protect him or her from hypothermia. Often associated with extremely cold temperatures, mild hypothermia can actually start to set in at 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Because older adults have a harder time regulating internal temperature fluctuations, they are more prone to hypothermia and other adverse health effects of colder weather.
If you are caring for someone as the temperature drops, here are some tips to keep them warm.
Monitor A/C Units in the House
Make sure that the air conditioning in the house is turned off, or switched to an appropriate temperature. In times when the outside air goes from warm to colder very quickly, it can often go without notice that the a/c is still set on a cooler temperature. Therefore, it’s important to make sure that the internal temperature has been adjusted appropriately.
Plan for Layers of Clothing
Check to make sure your loved one has plenty of extra clothing such as socks, scarves, hats, sweaters, and gloves. The hands, head, and feet need to be covered at all times as temperatures drop. These parts of the body lose heat the fastest, and for an older person that can mean that their body temperature drops significantly if these areas are not covered. Your loved one should be wearing layers indoors and outdoors as the weather gets colder.
Invest in a Space Heater
In parts of the country where cold weather is rare, not all homes will have heating systems. Make sure that your loved one is prepared for a cold snap by investing in a space heater. The more portable, the better, so that your loved one can take it with them as they move around the house. Additionally, close off rooms in the house that are not being used, therefore ensuring that the heat stays concentrated in the rooms that are occupied.
Hearty Meal Planning
Eating well is essential to staying healthy in any environment, but as the temperature drops, it’s important that seniors are maintaining a proper weight and nutritious diet. Hearty meals such as beef stew, casseroles, pastas, and meals with whole grains are most important during winter. Many older people may struggle with appetite, but it’s vitally important that you monitor your loved one’s nutrition intake during winter.
Bonus tip: Incorporating exercise into your loved one’s routine can help boost their appetite. When the weather gets cooler, walking in an indoor mall, or using a facility such as a YMCA can help your loved one work up an appetite for something hearty.
Some medicines can lower body temperatures in older adults. It’s important to check with your loved one’s doctor to make sure that this is not the case, and if it is, what measures can be taken to help them stay warm as temperatures dip.
If you are in need of caregiving assistance, contact us at 24/7 Nursing Care. We offer professional services in nursing and companion care for short-term or long-term needs. Let us know how we can serve you and your loved one when you need assistance the most.
Cold Weather Safety for Older Adults. (n.d.). Retrieved January 04, 2018, from https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/cold-weather-safety-older-adults