We’re heading into the coldest month of the year in North Carolina — January. With average lows of 29 degrees and average highs only getting to 48, there’s a chill in the air most days that just doesn’t go away.
For seniors, that cold can feel even more harsh. As we age our bodies change, making us more susceptible to feeling cold. Your skin gets thinner and the layer of fat under the skin is thinner, making you less likely to tolerate fluctuating temperatures. That’s what makes it important to have some tools in your arsenal to keep warm even on the coldest days. Here are a few of our suggestions:
1. Keep your heat set around 70 degrees. It might be tempting to set the thermostat lower to save a little on the electric bill, but a few degrees colder could end up being dangerous. Seniors may not notice a drop in body temperature until it’s too late and symptoms of hypothermia set in. It’s helpful for family members to check in and make sure the electric bill is paid so the heat stays on all winter. If payments are a problem there are organizations such as the Crisis Intervention Program that can help.
2. Dress in layers. Those wool sweaters and flannel shirts are a great way to keep warm and toasty. But it works even better with a moisture-wicking, snug-fitting layer underneath, close to the skin. Your body can sweat even when you’re cold, and if that moisture is next to your skin you feel colder. Materials such as silk or rayon are good at keeping moisture away from the body.
3. Bring on the blankets! Layers aren’t just good for your clothes, they’re also great for snuggling up on the couch to watch TV or when in bed for the night. Avoid the temptation of electric blankets, as the heat on those can be hard to regulate and you might get it too warm. Instead, pile on the layers of quilts and blankets.
4. Eat nutritious, warm foods. Making sure to eat regular meals full of vitamins, proteins and good carbs can help your body stay healthy and able to better regulate your internal thermostat. Soups and stews are a good way to get the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that help keep you healthy while also getting some added warmth. Hot tea and coffee can also help warm you up temporarily.
5. Remember to keep exercising. Taking a walk can help get your blood circulating and muscles moving, which helps you feel warm. You can bundle up and go outside, which is great for getting some sunshine to help brighten your mood. Or if it’s too cold outside just walk through the halls of your house. You might even find a walking group at a local mall.
It’s important to keep a check on our loved ones during the cold months of the year, to make sure the heat is functioning properly and they’re eating well and staying healthy. Piedmont Home Care can help provide you with the regular visits and care your loved ones need. If you’re looking for assistance in caring for an elderly loved one, call us today for information on how we can help.