As we age, keeping warm in winter becomes more difficult. We’re lucky to have such a mild winter in Queensland, but that’s not to say that we don’t experience a sudden cold snap from time to time. As the cold weather often brings along a greater risk of health issues amongst seniors, it’s important to know how to stay warm throughout this season.
Why seniors feel cold
Seniors are more sensitive to cold weather due to natural changes in the body. Some of these changes include:
- A decrease in the body’s metabolic rate, making it more difficult to retain heat and maintain the body’s normal temperature of 37°C
- The walls of the blood vessels naturally losing their elasticity, which causes the body’s extremities to get cold faster
- Thinning of the fat layer under the skin that conserves heat
- Other medical conditions such as low blood pressure or side effects of certain medication
The risks of hypothermia
Whilst many people believe that hypothermia only occurs in frigid conditions, seniors are susceptible to its dangers even in mild temperatures.
Hypothermia takes place when the body’s temperature falls below 35°C. It’s important to understand that a person does not have to be in very cold weather to risk hypothermia. In fact, there are more factors other than a cold environment that put someone at risk of this medical emergency, the main one being age. When treating hypothermia, time is of the utmost importance, which is why it’s always better to prevent it than treat it.
Tips on keeping warm in winter
Keeping your house warm
Aside from turning on the heater, there are certain tricks you can apply to keep your house nice and warm. To save on electricity bills, close the doors of any unused room and place door draft stoppers to keep the cold air out. You should also close all curtains and blinds once the sun has set so you can retain the heat for longer.
Wearing warm clothes
It’s no secret that our hands and feet get cold faster in winter. When this happens, it’s natural to focus on what you’re wearing on your hands to warm up. But when doing so, do not neglect other parts of your body, especially your torso! And also remember that wearing multiple layers is always better than wearing one bulky layer to stay warm. Once your torso is warm, it will be able to better distribute heat to your extremities.
Eat nutritious food
Keep yourself well-fed with hearty, nutritious food in winter. Pre-existing health issues or certain medications can cause loss of appetite, but it’s important to ensure that your body has all the nutrients it needs to maintain a healthy immune system. You can also make the most of hot drinks such as hot chocolate or tea to stay warm!
Have regular check-ups and get your flu vaccination
Regular visits to your GP help to maintain your overall health. Seniors are also at risk of developing complications from flu, which is why getting vaccinated each year is recommended.