During the winter season, it is important for seniors to take extra precautions to protect themselves from the cold—both indoors as well as out. Cold weather can pose serious health risks for seniors, as their bodies may be less able to regulate their temperature and their immune systems may be weaker.
One of the most significant risks for those over 65 in cold weather is hypothermia, which occurs when the body’s core temperature drops below normal. Symptoms of hypothermia include shivering, slurred speech, and confusion. If left untreated, hypothermia can lead to serious health complications, including heart attack and stroke. To prevent hypothermia, seniors should wear several layers of warm clothing, stay indoors as much as possible, and keep their home heated to at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
Another cold weather danger is frostbite, which occurs when the skin and underlying tissue freeze. Frostbite is most common on the fingers, toes, nose, and ears, and it can cause permanent damage if not treated promptly. To prevent frostbite, seniors should wear warm gloves and socks, cover their head and ears, and avoid spending long periods of time outside in cold temperatures.
In addition to hypothermia and frostbite, cold weather can also exacerbate other health problems that seniors may already have. For example, people with asthma may experience increased difficulty breathing in cold, dry air, while those with arthritis may feel more pain in their joints due to the cold. Those with heart conditions may also be more at risk for heart attacks in the cold, as blood vessels constrict and make it harder for the heart to pump blood.
To protect yourself from these and other health risks, follow these few simple precautions:
- Stay active: Exercise is important for maintaining overall health and can also help you stay warm during cold weather. Try to stay active by taking walks, doing gentle stretches, or participating in low-impact activities such as yoga or tai chi.
- Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of fluids is important for maintaining healthy body temperature and preventing dehydration. Aim to drink at least eight glasses of water per day, and avoid alcohol and caffeine, which can increase the risk of dehydration. A warm cup of decaf coffee or tea can help warm you up from the inside out.
- Stay indoors: Try to stay inside as much as possible during cold weather, especially when the temperature drops below freezing. If you must go outside, dress in warm layers, wear a hat and gloves, and stay close to home. Remember, you can always remove clothing if you get too warm so it’s better to have on more than you might need, rather than wishing you had that extra sweater.
- Stay warm: Make sure your home is adequately heated and wear warm clothing and use blankets to stay warm. Wear socks with grippers on the soles and slippers to keep your feet warm. Make sure to close windows and doors to prevent drafts and use draft stoppers or weatherstripping to seal any gaps. Contact your local utility company for any programs available to assist you with paying your heating bills.
- Stay connected: Make sure you have a way to contact friends and family in case of an emergency. If you have a cell phone, keep it fully charged. Consider joining a check-in program or getting a medical alert system to ensure you have help if ever needed.
By following these precautions, you can protect yourself and your loved ones from the dangers of cold weather and enjoy a healthy and comfortable winter season.
Elixir Insurance is a Prescription Drug Plan with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in Elixir Insurance depends on contract renewal. For more information, please call our customer service number at 833-684-7267. TTY users call 711. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. ATTENTION: If you speak Spanish, language assistance services, free of charge, are available to you. Call 833-684-7267 (TTY: 711). ATENCIÓN: si habla Español, los servicios de asistencia lingüística, sin cargo, están disponibles para usted. Llamada 833-684-7267 (TTY: 711).
S7694_22-7186_enewsletter 2023_C Reviewed 01/13/23
Elixir Insurance, 7835 Freedom Avenue NW, North Canton, OH 44720, United States