Cold weather can be extremely dangerous for elderly adults.
As a family caregiver, it is important to recognize that even temperatures that don’t seem extreme to you can put your parent in danger of hypothermia. Elderly adults have many factors that contribute to their vulnerability to the cold, including a lower metabolic rate, greater difficulty regulating internal temperature, the potential for health issues such as diabetes that contribute to temperature regulation problems, less shivering, and more.
This means that even if the temperature is in the 60s, your parents could still suffer from a drop in body temperature that could put them at very serious risk for complications including death. Finding ways to keep your parent warmer throughout the winter will make them more comfortable and protect their health and well-being.
Use these tips to help keep your elderly adult warmer this winter:
- Maintain a consistent temperature in the home so their body doesn’t have to constantly struggle to raise its temperature.
- Encourage your parent to wear layers. This allows them to easily regulate their temperature by taking off layers and adding them back on if needed.
- Make sure your parent wears thick socks or stable house shoes that surround the foot and have solid, slip-resistant bottoms. Much of the body’s heat escapes from the feet, so keeping the feet warm and protected will help to keep the entire body warmer.
- Encourage your parent to wear a knit hat to prevent heat from escaping from the top of the head.
- Place blankets throughout the home so there is always one within easy reach of your parent. Remember they are more susceptible to the cold when they are inactive, so if they are sitting watching TV or reading, they will need more warmth.
- Encourage your parent to sip warm beverages such as herbal tea or broth to keep their body temperature up.
- Discourage the from consuming alcohol. This may make them feel warmer, but could actually make them more susceptible to hypothermia.
Being a family caregiver means adding a tremendous amount of responsibility to your already busy schedule.
This can leave you feeling as though there’s no way you can handle everything on your to-do list. Relying on elder care can ease that stress and make you more confident you can fulfill these needs effectively and consistently. An elderly home care services provider can take on a variety of tasks for your senior so they feel more autonomous and can experience a more fulfilling and self-led quality of life. For you as their family caregiver, this provides more flexibility in your schedule and reduces the stress and concern that can come from trying it to manage all of these needs at once.