Feeling Cold in Older Adult
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What Causes Feeling Cold in Older Adults?

Feeling Cold in Older Adults

Feeling cold is a common sensation that we all experience from time to time, especially during colder months. However, for older adults, feeling excessively cold can be more than just a discomfort; it can be a sign of underlying health issues. In this blog, we will explore some of the common causes of feeling cold in older adults and provide insights into how to manage and prevent these issues.

What Are the Causes of Feeling Cold in Older Adults?

Feeling Cold in Older Adults

1. Reduced Metabolism

One of the primary reasons why older adults tend to feel colder is a decrease in metabolism. Metabolism refers to the body’s ability to generate heat and maintain a stable internal temperature.

As you age, our metabolism naturally slows down, resulting in a reduced capacity to produce heat. This can make older adults more susceptible to feeling cold, especially in colder environments.

2. Poor Circulation

Another significant factor contributing to the sensation of coldness in older adults is poor circulation. As you age, blood vessels may become less flexible, and blood flow can be compromised.

Reduced circulation means less warm blood reaches the extremities, such as the hands and feet, making them feel colder. Conditions like peripheral artery disease can exacerbate this problem.

3. Medication Complications

Certain medications, like beta-blockers for heart disease, can make you feel colder as a side effect. While these drugs help relax the heart, they can also lead to sensations of dizziness, fatigue, nausea, and coldness in your hands and feet.

Calcium channel blockers can have a similar effect. If you’re experiencing this, consulting your doctor can help. They may adjust your dosage or suggest alternative medications for your comfort.

4. Reduced Muscle Mass

Aging is often associated with a loss of muscle mass, a condition called sarcopenia. Muscles generate heat when they contract, so a reduction in muscle mass can lead to less heat production and increased vulnerability to feeling cold.

Regular exercise and strength training can help mitigate muscle loss. To discover a wealth of information on physical exercises tailored for older adults, we invite you to explore dedicated blog of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

5. Anemia

Anemia, a condition characterized by a shortage of red blood cells or a decrease in hemoglobin levels, can reduce the blood’s ability to carry oxygen to body tissues. This can result in feeling cold, fatigued, and weak.

Anemia can have various underlying causes, including nutritional deficiencies and chronic diseases, and should be promptly addressed by a healthcare provider.

6. Inadequate Nutrition

Nutrition plays a crucial role in maintaining body temperature. Older adults may have reduced appetites, leading to inadequate calorie intake. Malnutrition can lead to reduced fat stores, which act as insulation, making them more susceptible to feeling cold. 

7. Kidney Disease

Understanding kidney health is essential, especially when diabetes and high blood pressure are factors. These common conditions can lead to kidney disease, where your kidneys struggle to filter your blood effectively, potentially causing a buildup of waste and a lower core body temperature.

Additionally, kidney disease is linked to anemia, and your risk increases with age, especially if you’ve had diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease for an extended period.

Regular check-ups and a healthy lifestyle are crucial in managing these risks and preserving kidney function. To learn more about kidney disorders in older adults, please visit our dedicated blog for comprehensive information and expert insights.

How to Prevent Feeling Cold in Older Adults?

The sensation of perpetual coldness can be more than just an inconvenience; it can negatively impact comfort and well-being. Now, we will explore practical ways to preventes, and a cozy hat to keep extremities warm.

Keeping Warm Preventing Feeling Cold in Older Adults

1. Maintain a Warm Environment

Ensure that the indoor environment is comfortably heated, especially during colder months. Use space heaters, if necessary, but exercise caution to prevent accidents.

Regularly check the insulation in the home to minimize drafts and heat loss. Adding weatherstripping to doors and windows can make a significant difference in maintaining a warm interior.

2. Exercise

Physical activity is not only crucial for overall health but can also help maintain body temperature. Encourage older adults to engage in regular exercise. Physical activity promotes blood circulation and helps generate body heat. Below are some types of exercises that are suitable for seniors:

  • Walking
  • Gentle Yoga
  • Swimming
  • Bicycling

3. Consume Protein and Healthy Fats

A well-balanced diet is essential for maintaining a healthy body temperature. Ensure that older adults are consuming enough calories and nutrients to support their metabolism.

Foods high in protein and healthy fats can help generate heat, so consider incorporating these into their meals. Here are some foods that are high in protein and healthy fats:

  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • Chia Seeds
  • Flaxseeds
  • Chicken Breast
  • Turkey
  • Grass-Fed Beef
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Cheese
  • Lentils
  • Chickpeas
  • Eggs
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Avocado
  • Olive Oil

Additionally, staying hydrated is equally important, as dehydration can make the body more susceptible to feeling cold. To delve deeper into the subject of nutrition for older adults, we encourage you to visit our dedicated blog for valuable insights and expert guidance.

4. Keep Hydrated

Staying properly hydrated is essential for maintaining body temperature. Encourage older adults to drink enough water throughout the day, as dehydration can lead to a drop in body temperature. Warm beverages like herbal tea or hot water with lemon can also help keep them warm from the inside.

5. Use Home Modifications

Consider making modifications to the home to make it more comfortable and warm for older adults. This may include:

  • Energy-Efficient Furnace: Install a high-efficiency furnace or boiler to ensure reliable heating and reduce energy costs.
  • Radiant Floor Heating: Install in key areas like bathrooms and bedrooms for consistent warmth underfoot.
  • Smart Thermostats: Use programmable or smart thermostats to maintain a consistent and comfortable temperature without manual adjustments.
  • Heat Pumps: Consider a heat pump for efficient heating (and cooling if needed).
  • Attic Insulation: Add or upgrade insulation in the attic to prevent heat loss.
  • Wall Insulation: Ensure exterior walls are well-insulated.
  • Floor Insulation: Insulate floors, especially above unheated spaces like garages or basements.
  • Seal Gaps and Cracks: Use weather stripping around doors and windows and seal any gaps or cracks in the walls, floors, and ceilings to prevent drafts.
  • Double-Glazed Windows: Install double or triple-glazed windows to improve insulation and reduce heat loss.
  • Thermal Curtains: Use heavy, insulated curtains to retain heat and block cold air from entering through windows.
  • Electric Blankets and Heated Mattress Pads: Provide additional warmth during cold nights.
  • Door Draft Stoppers: Place at the base of doors to prevent cold air from entering rooms.

These small changes can make a big difference in comfort.

6. Regular Health Check-ups

Lastly, don’t underestimate the importance of regular health check-ups. Conditions like anemia, thyroid disorders, or circulatory issues can contribute to feeling cold. Identifying and managing these underlying health concerns can significantly improve comfort.

10 Top Products to Prevent Feeling Cold in Older Adults

10 Top Products to Prevent Feeling Cold in Older Adults

  • Electric Blankets: They are a fantastic solution to combat cold nights. These blankets have adjustable temperature settings, allowing users to customize their warmth level for a comfortable night’s sleep.
  • Heated Seat Cushions: They are particularly useful for older adults who spend a lot of time sitting. Some cushions even come with built-in massage functions for added relaxation.
  • Insulated Clothing: Investing in insulated clothing items like heated vests, jackets, or gloves can make a significant difference in staying warm. 
  • Microwavable Heating Pads: These pads are often filled with natural materials like rice or flaxseed and can be heated in the microwave. They are perfect for targeting areas like the neck, shoulders, or lower back.
  • Heated Slippers and Socks: Cold feet can be especially uncomfortable for older adults. Heated slippers and socks are designed to keep the feet warm and toasty.
  • Thermal Curtains: To minimize heat loss and drafty windows, thermal curtains are an excellent addition to any home. 
  • Space Heaters: Space heaters are a versatile option for heating specific areas of the home. Look for energy-efficient models with safety features like tip-over protection and adjustable thermostats. 
  • Warm Beverage Makers: Enjoying warm beverages like tea, coffee, or hot chocolate can help maintain internal body temperature. 
  • Heated Throw Blankets: They provide immediate warmth and comfort for older adults sitting on the couch or watching TV.
  • Thermal Undergarments: Thermal undergarments are an effective way to stay warm outdoors or in colder indoor environments. They are designed to trap heat close to the body and can be worn discreetly under regular clothing.

Feeling cold is a common concern for many older adults, but with these practical strategies, you can help them stay warm and comfortable throughout the year. By dressing in layers, maintaining a warm environment, staying active, eating a balanced diet, staying hydrated, making home modifications, and addressing underlying health issues, you can significantly reduce the discomfort of feeling cold and enhance the overall well-being of older adults.

Sources

1. Are You Feeling Colder as You Get Older? – Life Enriching Communities

2. Growing Older and Feeling Colder? Tips to Stay Warm This Winter – El Camino Health

3. Cold Weather Safety for Older Adults – National Institute on Aging

4. 8 Reasons You’re Always Cold – AARP

5. Older Adults and Extreme Cold – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

6. Why we need to eat well – Food and Agriculture Organization

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