January is one of the coldest months of the year. While the cold can be inconvenient and uncomfortable for everyone, it especially takes a toll on elderly people. As individuals age, they are increasingly susceptible to the cold for a variety of reasons. There is a natural decrease of their metabolic rate, which means they are unable to generate enough heat to maintain a normal body temperature. Slowing blood circulation, thinner skin, and a decrease in body fat that comes with age also plays a part.
Because of these reasons, it’s important to keep your older loved one in a warm, comfortable environment. The consequences of not doing so can be detrimental. A body temperature colder than 95°F can cause many health problems for older individuals, such as a heart attack, kidney problems, liver damage, or worse.
Knowing this, the next time your elderly loved one complains about the temperature of the room, take proactive steps to create a warmer, more comfortable environment. Here are some helpful tips for heating your home without paying a substantial amount.
Keep the Heat In
According to the National Institute of Aging, you need to set your thermostat at 68° or higher if you live with older individuals. If the rest of the family is uncomfortable with the heat, create a pocket of warmth in your loved one’s room. Keep the door closed to keep the heat in and purchase thick, thermal curtains to prevent cold air from coming in through the windows. If there are noticeable gaps in the windows, use weather stripping or caulk. To keep the bills down, close the vents and shut the doors of rooms you don’t regularly use. Look into investing in a programmable thermostat to easily regulate the heat.
Use Electric Blankets or Heating Pads
An electric blanket or heating pad is a great way to keep warm and stay warm, but we advise your older loved one only use electric blankets or heating pads while under supervision. While extremely effective, these devices can be dangerous if misused and left on. When selecting which product to buy, make sure it has an automatic shut-off function and different levels of heat. Be careful to read and follow the instructions to prevent an accident that could cause harm to your loved one.
Invest in warm slippers, blankets, and light coats for your loved one to wear during the day. 30-50% of the body’s heat is lost through the head, so make sure they wear a hat. Advise them to wear lightweight layers and make sure their clothes stay dry throughout the day. Warm their clothes in the dryer before they get dressed for the day and their pajamas before they go to sleep.
Eat Healthy, Calorie-Dense Foods
Eating healthy, calorie-dense foods can help the body stay warm and energized to fight infections. It’s also important your loved one is eating enough to maintain or gain weight, as body fat can help to insulate and regulate the body’s internal temperature. Make sure they are drinking 8-10 oz. of water each day, as hydration is essential because of the dry, winter air.
Exercise is a great way to increase body temperature as well as increase circulation. Encourage your loved one to get up and move, walk, or even stretch every hour, if possible.
We hope these tips help you regulate the temperature of your home in these warmer months to accommodate for your elderly loved one. If they live on their own, it’s important to make sure their home is kept at the appropriate temperature. This is where we come in. We offer personalized in-home care and assistance, customized to your needs. Whether it’s 4 hours or 24, we can ease the burden on your shoulders. Contact us today for more information on how we can help!
Not sure if your parents or other older family members need assistance at home?
We are here to assist you and your loved one in making that decision.