Winter can be a beautiful time of the year. The pristine white snow as it blankets the landscape can be absolutely breathtaking. People scurry excitedly to be in the midst of it and to relish in the wonders of the winter cold. But there is a large part of the population that meets these same winter months with a bit of trepidation. When the elderly enter this time of year, their thoughts are filled with concern. They worry about being able to stay warm when the temperature drops too low and how to keep from getting sick because of it.
Family members also have these concerns on their mind. They, more than anyone else understand as people get old, their circulation starts to slow down, and the walls of their blood vessels lose their elasticity. These things along with a slow metabolism and other health issues often cause their loved ones to feel cold even when things are perfectly normal. Your home may have a thermostat that is turned up, but your elderly relative is still suffering from the cold. What can be done to keep them warm without forcing the rest of the family to live in a furnace? There are a few practical steps you can take to make sure your loved ones are kept safe and warm through those harsh months.
Create a Warm Room
One of the best things to do is to keep your elderly family members in a room set at a temperature where they can feel the most comfortable. While the rest of the house can have the thermostat turned down, the room where they will spend the most time can be set higher so that they can feel not only warm but relaxed.
Ideally, you want the warm room to be situated on the south side of the house or in the section where it gets the most sun. Block any and all drafts that may enter the room. Even a well heated room will feel cold if there is a draft. Look for leaks and cover them up soundly.
Serve Them Hot Meals
Meal time should always be with hot meals and hot beverages; essential throughout the day. These can give them warmth and also the energy to get through those colder days. Elderly people tend to feel coldest in the hands and feet, so they will welcome being able to wrap their hands around a hot mug of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate.
Of course, your elderly relative may not be able to get up and go jogging, but movement can help to improve their circulation. While they don’t have to get into any vigorous routines, giving them something to do that will allow them to move physically can be a tremendous help in warding off those winter chills.
Take Them to Senior Day Care
Letting them spend the day in the company of others does a lot more than keep them warm. Senior Day Care facilities are already warmed up to a comfortable level for elderly people, but they are also places that can easily warm their souls as well. You’d be surprised at how much socialization can do for an elderly person who spends most of his or her time at home alone. The company they keep there will motivate them to get involved in all sorts of activities that will help to improve their circulation and bring up their body temperature.
Dress them in layers rather than giving them one simple warm garment to put on. Layers of clothing will hold in more body heat by creating insulation that will trap the warmth in air pockets between the layers. They also make it easier to take a few layers off when needed, so there is no risk of overheating.
Since the hands and feet are the most sensitive to the cold, make sure they are wearing fleece slippers with no-skid bottoms to help them keep the heat in. Gloves and/or mittens on their hands will keep their hands from feeling the bone chill of winter, and a warm, comfortable hat to keep the body heat from escaping can make them feel warm and cozy.
It is not always easy to keep elderly people safe from the elements. Their bodies tend to react much more extremely to temperature changes, so you should always be consciously aware of signs that the cold is getting to them. As a home caregiver, you have a big responsibility to build a strong line of defense against the harsh conditions that they are exposed to. If you are having trouble protecting your loved ones from the winter cold, there are plenty of agencies that can give you the help you need.
Cold weather is one of the largest health risks a senior can be exposed to, and without a little extra help on their behalf, many of them will fall to hypothermia, become ill or even worse. You play a vital role in winter safety for them and when you do, the whole family reaps the rewards.