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The Effects of Colder Weather on the Elderly

As the warmth of the holiday season fades away, colder weather begins to take over. The days feel shorter and darker, and it can be difficult to maintain the level of activity that you need. Colder weather has a variety of effects on the elderly. It can increase the risk of falls, cause chronic pain issues to flare up, weaken the immune system, increase the risk for hypothermia and change sleep habits.

Chronic pain flareups and an increased risk of falls often go hand in hand during the colder months. The pain can keep us from getting up and around the way we are used to, making it hard to keep up our muscular strength and joint range of motion. Even in cold weather, we have to do what we can to continue moving around by taking walks, gardening, or visiting with friends and family.

The immune system weakens naturally as we age, but it seems even weaker in the winter because people do most of their gathering in enclosed spaces where it is easier for viruses and bacteria to spread. We need to be giving our bodies extra support in the winter by staying hydrated, maintaining nutritional needs through diet or supplements, and layering clothing to make sure that internal temperature is maintained.

If our internal temperature is not maintained, the colder months increase the risk of hypothermia since seniors naturally create less body heat and often have less fat. To help maintain temperature, dress warmly and in layers on chilly days even if you are staying in the house, sleep in long pajamas and have extra covers available. Be extra cautious of your fingers, hands, feet, and toes as they feel the effects first. Maybe even keep a blanket, socks, or slippers nearby to cover your feet. It is also important to eat enough throughout the day to maintain your body weight which will also help you to regulate your internal temperature.

Those late sunrises and early sunsets can also disrupt your sleep habits. Our bodies naturally prefer to move with the sun and sleep in the dark which leaves a smaller window of active time in the colder months. This can also negatively affect mobility as we find ourselves sitting more hours in the day due to increased hours of darkness. Extra idle time can also make it difficult to fall asleep when bedtime finally comes since you didn’t do enough activity during the day to make you tired.

Let the Caregiver referred by Griswold Home Care of Greater Orlando help your aging or unwell loved ones remain as active as possible during the chilly winter months. Caregivers can help with light housekeeping, laundry, changing linens, and plant care as well as make sure our loved ones get out for a walk and have an opportunity for social interaction. To learn more about homemaking or companion care services, contact us today at 407-740-7419.

If you or an aging loved one are considering non-medical in-home care in Greater Orlando, FL, call Griswold Home Care and speak to one of our caring staff members today. Call (407) 638-8116