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The Elderly and Cold Weather: Prepare This Winter Season

Frosty mornings and falling snow certainly have their positive points, but the elderly and cold weather don’t always mix well. For some older adults, cold weather can cause serious health issues. Taking a few precautions can help keep the seniors in your life safe and healthy this winter.

Why Are Elderly People Always Cold?

If you spend any time with an older adult, you may be wondering why are old people always cold?

There are a couple of reasons for this. First, being cold all the time can be a sign of medical issues. This can range from being diabetic to having hypertension.

Also, some medications can cause a person to feel cold. For example, beta blockers, which are used to decrease a person’s heart rate, also reduce the circulation of blood to one’s feet and hands.

Of course, you don’t have to be dealing with an illness to feel cold all the time. As a person ages, the walls of their blood vessels tend to lose their elasticity, which reduces circulation. The fat layer under the skin that helps a person stay warm also decreases. Finally, as you age, your metabolic response to the cold slows down.

All of this contributes to being colder when you are older.

Hypothermia in the Elderly

One of the most serious weather-related issues you need to watch for with senior adults is hypothermia. Hypothermia is a drop in body temperature caused by exposure to cold temperatures. This drop in body temperature can be life-threatening.

When it comes to the causes of hypothermia in the elderly, the most common is being exposed to the cold. If a senior is out in the cold too long and doesn’t have proper cold-weather clothing on, their body temperature can fall.

In addition, medical conditions such as diabetes and thyroid conditions can lead to hypothermia. Lifestyle choices such as drinking alcohol or using drugs can increase one’s risk of hypothermia as well.

Winter Safety Tips for Seniors

Now that cold weather is knocking on the door, it’s time to ensure seniors in your life stay safe and warm all winter long. These cold weather tips for seniors should go a long way in doing just that.

  • Stay covered up when outside: Frostbite can happen quickly, so be sure all skin is covered completely when outside.
  • Pay someone to shovel the snow: Spend a few bucks or get the grandkids involved and let them shovel snow instead of an elderly adult. Shoveling snow can be dangerous for those with heart conditions.
  • Have a carbon monoxide detector in the home: Gas heaters can leak carbon monoxide, so have yours checked before winter starts and be sure to have a properly placed carbon monoxide detector in your home.
  • Give your loved one a lift: If road conditions are dangerous due to ice and snow, offer to drive your loved one to the store or to a doctor’s appointment so they don’t have to drive on dangerous roads.

Staying safe during the winter months is easy with a little planning. Besides, taking the stress out of cold weather gives you more time to sit back, enjoy a cup of cocoa, and watch the snow fall.