Did you know that as you get older, your ability to tell when the temperature changes decreases? This can be especially dangerous because health problems caused by cold weather are more common in older people. Cold temperatures can put your immune system and heart at risk. With colder temperatures approaching, it is important to begin to be mindful of staying healthy during the winter.
Cold weather can cause vasoconstriction which is when blood vessels narrow and increases blood pressure and the risk for heart attacks. About 70% of the increased deaths in the winter are caused by cardiovascular events. In addition, some infectious organisms, such as flu viruses, thrive in colder weather. This, in conjunction with the suppression that comes to the cold weather, causes an uptick in sickness and death in the winter.
What can you do to help prevent sickness in the winter? Some ways to combat cold weather risks are by bundling up when going outside, keeping your house at a safe temperature, eating enough, and drinking alcohol moderately. Wearing enough layers when going outside can help keep your body temperature up and protect your immune system. Keeping your house at at least 68-70 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal for health. If need be, rolled up towels can be used along the bottom of doors to keep drafts out. It is also recommended to use an easy-to-read thermostat if you are over 65 years old, as it may be starting to get more difficult to feel when the temperature changes. This allows you to check the temperature of your room more easily. To help your body retain heat more easily, be sure to eat enough to maintain or increase your weight during the winter. The fat under our skin helps hold heat in and keep your body temperature up. And lastly, alcohol can make you lose body heat, causing your body temperature to drop faster. Being mindful of the warmth and safety of you and your family during the winter and holiday season can help you all stay happy and healthy.
If you are struggling to pay for heating, please visit our awards page to see if you qualify for assistance.
By Rilieigh Zacek
- https://www.facebook.com/NIHAging. “Cold Weather Safety for Older Adults.” National Institute on Aging, 2018, nia.nih.gov/health/cold-weather-safety-older-adults.
- “Out in the Cold – Harvard Health Publications – Harvard Health.” Harvard Health, Harvard Health, 2010, health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/out-in-the-cold.
- “How Does Cold Weather Affect Your Health? – Harvard Health.” Harvard Health, Harvard Health, 13 Nov. 2014, https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-does-cold-weather-affect-your-healthwww.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-does-cold-weather-affect-your-health.
- Extreme Cold: A Prevention Guide to Promote Your Personal Health and Safety, https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/winter/pdf/extreme-cold-guide.pdf.