It’s a known truth that pervades the entire healthcare community. From home health aides to registered nurses, the knowledge is universal: the winter months can be especially dangerous for seniors.
Yet, those new to caregiving may find themselves asking: Why? Why are seniors seemingly predisposed to adverse health effects during the winter?
The following will divulge a few reasons why the winter can be adverse for seniors. Through familiarizing themselves with these factors, caregivers can better prepare their aging loved ones for the chillier months!
As expected, one of the main reasons why the cold season adversely affects seniors is the heightened risk of hypothermia.
This reason is threefold for seniors.
- As we age, our ability to maintain body heat becomes less flexible. Thus, a colder shift in temperature is less likely to be equalized in a senior body.
- Elderly individuals are more likely to be on a medication that can disrupt thermoregulatory systems or bodily awareness.
- Those entering their golden years are more likely to be living with an illness or condition that can impair immune response to cold.
One of the best ways to stave off hypothermia in seniors is to have an action plan. Keep your loved one bundled up when they go outside, keep interiors heated between 68 and 70 degrees, and try to avoid any outings in particularly chilly weather.
Worsened Heart Condition
Seniors with heart conditions can also experience heightened side effects during the cold months. The chilly air can cause the systems of the body to enter into ‘low power mode.’ Blood vessels constrict to conserve energy, and oxygen is not optimally regulated throughout the body. For seniors living with cardiovascular problems, this lack of oxygen can exacerbate their adverse side effects.
Slip and Falls
For seniors, the winter does not solely bring interior health threats, it also creates an exterior hazard. This is because as the days grow shorter and colder, the possibility of a slip and fall grows greater. The darker days create shadowy corners, whereas the surrounding wetness creates the inciting slip that can lead to a dangerous fall.
For caregivers looking to prevent a senior fall, it’s imperative to clear exterior pathways of snow and sleet. Position non-slip rugs near entrances in order to hinder water tracks. Enlist a home health aide, to check in on your loved one periodically to ensure that they are well.