By Lizzie Weakley
As you get older, your metabolism slows down and your circulation decreases. Common aging-related diseases like diabetes and hypothyroidism can also decrease your cold tolerance. This means that seniors are especially vulnerable to winter dangers like hypothermia, frostbite and pneumonia. Read on to learn how you can stay warm and safe during the coldest months of the year.
Dress in Layers
Bundling up in layers is a great way to stay warm in any temperature because you easily remove outer layers indoors or if the weather changes. Try a long-sleeved shirt under a cardigan with a jacket on top or a hooded sweatshirt with a cotton tee underneath. Accessories like scarves and gloves add extra warmth.
Drink Hot Beverages
A mug of hot cocoa, a cup of hot tea or some java from the corner coffee shop can warm you up from the inside. Holding the hot container can also keep your hands warm. If drinks aren’t your thing, try a steaming bowl of soup or a hot slice of apple pie.
Adjust the Thermostat
Turning the heat up is an obvious way to keep warm, but high heating bills and malfunctioning HVAC systems can be an obstacle for many seniors. If you or someone you love can’t afford to stay warm, look into special programs that help seniors cover energy bills in the winter or pay for heating repair services.
Reverse Ceiling Fans
Your ceiling fan provides a nice cooling breeze in the summer, but did you know that it can also help you stay warm in the winter? Reversing the blades on your fans pushes warm air down into the room to keep you cozy instead of wasting it at ceiling-level. Most new fans have a small switch you can flip to change their direction.
Take Warm Baths
There’s nothing like a warm bath to take off the chill, but remember to be safe in the tub. Install grab bars to help you get in and out, use non-slip bathmats and a bath chair if needed. Check the temperature of your bath with a thermometer to prevent burns. Water that seems fine to the touch may be too hot for soaking. You can get help from a loved one or an assistant if you have trouble getting in the bath.
Although it’s normal to need the thermostat turned up as you grow older, being cold constantly even when the temperature is very warm can be a sign of something serious. If you suddenly get cold more easily than usual or find it difficult to keep warm, schedule an appointment with your doctor.