Tips for older adults on staying warm this winter

Winter presents unique challenges for older adults, increasing the likelihood of serious illnesses and elevating the risk of mortality. Studies confirm a direct correlation between colder climates and higher mortality rates among seniors. However, taking appropriate measures can significantly mitigate these risks, ensuring a safer, warmer, and more comfortable season. If you are an older adult living independently, here are some tips on staying warm this winter.

Prepare for Winter: Proactive preparation can help you avoid many common winter hazards that affect health. Beyond the essentials of staying warm and enjoying comforting meals like soups, consider the following steps:

Inspect Your Home: Check the sealants on windows and doors for any cracks or wear. Effective insulation is crucial not only for maintaining warmth but also for reducing heating costs.

Stock Up on Essentials: Keep non-perishable food items stocked up, so you don’t need to go out in bad weather. Staying indoors is vital, especially if you’re already under the weather, as exposure to cold and wind can worsen your condition.

Manage Chronic Conditions: Winter can be particularly harsh for those with chronic conditions like heart, lung, or kidney disease. These conditions may impair your body’s ability to regulate temperature. If you have such health issues, seek support from family, friends, or professional caregivers to ensure your safety and comfort during these months.

Keep Your Home Warm: Aim to keep the temperature in your most-used living areas around 24°C. If heating the entire house isn’t feasible, focus on warming the living area during the day and the bedroom before bedtime.

Use Heating Aids: Use hot water bottles or electric blankets to stay warm in bed. Consider setting your heating system or air-conditioner on a timer to match your routine, ensuring your home is warm when you wake up or return.

Dress in Layers: Opt for multiple thin layers instead of a single thick layer. The air trapped between layers acts as insulation. Choose clothing made from wool, cotton, or fleecy synthetic fibres.

Protect Extremities: Keep your feet and head covered, as these parts are prone to heat loss. Protecting them is crucial to prevent conditions like hypothermia.

Stay Dry: Always dry yourself and your hair thoroughly after bathing to avoid losing heat through evaporation.

Maintain a Nutritious Diet: Eating well is essential as food provides the energy needed to keep your body warm. Regular hot meals and drinks, along with light activity around your home, can help maintain your body temperature.

By implementing these tips, older adults can greatly reduce their health risks during the colder months, promoting a safer and more comfortable winter.