Keep Warm Even “Shake, shiver and shovel!” That’s what The Farmers’ Almanac says about the coming Winter weather which predicts a colder than normal winter with more snowfall than usual this year. Although most meteorologists don’t put much stock in the almanac, many people do. Whether the weather is or is not colder than usual, it is important for seniors to be aware of the temperature in their environment. According to the National Institute on Aging (NIA), seniors can be more vulnerable to hypothermia because their bodies can lose body heat faster than when they were younger. Hypothermia is defined as abnormally low body temperature and is caused by prolonged exposures to very cold temperatures. When a person’s body temperature gets below 95°F, it can incur health issues like heart, kidney or liver problems. Too low body temperature affects the brain, as well, making it difficult for a person to think clearly or move well.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that “while hypothermia is most likely at very cold temperatures, it can occur even at cool temperatures (above 40°F) if a person becomes chilled from rain, sweat, or submersion in cold water .” Hypothermia is not just for the great outdoors. It can happen inside, often without the victim realizing it is happening. For people who are suffering from illness or special problems, even temperatures between 60°F and 65°F may not be enough to keep warm. This can be a problem for people who live alone, too, since there is no one else there to recognize when the room temperature is too cold. A good rule of thumb for seniors and those with health issues is to keep the room temperature for heat to at least 68°F to 70°F and to dress warmly.

The NIA provides these tips to keep warm while inside:

  • Set your heat to at least 68–70°F. To save on heating bills, close off rooms you are not using. Close the vents and shut the doors in these rooms and keep the basement door closed. Place a rolled towel in front of all doors to keep out drafts.
  • Make sure your house isn’t losing heat through windows. Keep your blinds and curtains closed. If you have gaps around the windows, try using weather stripping or caulk to keep the cold air out.
  • Dress warmly on cold days even if you are staying in the house. Throw a blanket over your legs. Wear socks and slippers.
  • When you go to sleep, wear long underwear under your pajamas, and use extra covers. Wear a cap or hat.
  • Make sure you eat enough food to keep up your weight. If you don’t eat well, you might have less fat under your skin. Body fat helps you to stay warm.
  • Drink alcohol moderately, if at all. Alcoholic drinks can make you lose body heat.
  • Ask family or friends to check on you during cold weather. If a power outage leaves you without heat, try to stay with a relative or friend.

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