Although the past week was warmer than the beginning of the year, the winter season is in session and the chance for more cold temperatures is still likely.
Coweta has seen temperatures as low as in the teens since the beginning of the new year, and as the body ages, its ability to regulate its own temperature, as well as sense other temperature fluctuations, changes, according to Generations Healthcare Management, which specializes in independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing services.
Hypothermia, or a drop in body temperature that can be dangerous, can be a serious condition for seniors. Over half of all reported hypothermia deaths occur among individuals 60 and older, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In fact, hypothermia does not only happen when it there are extremely cold temperatures, but mild hypothermia can occur when an outside temperature is just at 60 degrees, according to Maureen Geboy, wellness coordinator with the Three Rivers Area Agency on Aging. The agency, which serves Coweta and other surrounding counties, plans, coordinates, and administers programs for older adults, caregivers, persons with disabilities, and grandparents raising grandchildren, according to its website.
Geboy outlines some basic tips to help keep seniors warm during cold weather.
Heat your home effectively
Although it may be tempting to keep costs down during the winter by lowering the thermostat inside our homes, this could prove to be harmful. A thermostat set at 68 degrees in a poorly insulated home can be dangerous for seniors. When the body temperature drops, it often cannot be felt. A senior may not know they are too cold and may not be able to take the steps necessary to warm up before it is too late. Seniors should keep their thermostats at a minimum of 68-70 degrees.
Heat your home safely
Are there blinds or curtains on the windows? Keep these closed after dusk during the winter months. It helps to keep in the heat that was generated during the day. It may also be helpful to use some of the available window wraps/ draft-proofing around the windows to help keep heat inside. Preventive protection like caulking around windows may also be needed. If using a space heater to provide additional warmth, be sure that there is appropriate ventilation and it is a safe distance- about 3 feet- from curtains and furniture. Make sure there is also an up-to-date carbon monoxide detector around to help detect any potentially harmful gas.
Layers work best, but make sure the layers are lightweight so you’re comfortable. Start with a layer that stays a bit closer to the body but wicks away moisture. Additional layers such as flannel, wool or thicker sweatshirts are ideal. Also make sure clothing stays dry. Wet fabric does very little to keep off the chill. Also, be on the lookout for dry skin.
Healthy and well-balanced diet
Eating well is always an important way to maintain health, but during the colder months, it can also help you stay warm. Hot teas and nutritious soups are wonderful ways to help maintain good body temperature. Stock up on canned goods and frozen foods such as hearty soups or frozen casseroles so you won’t need to go out too much during harsher weather. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables and drink plenty of water every day.
Days spent outside should be accompanied by well-fitted shoes with non-slip/non-skid soles to prevent any falls (waterproof shoes are best in areas of snow and ice). If a cane is needed, make sure the bottom of the cane is resistant as well. Make sure hats are worn and choose mittens over gloves.
SET IN INFO BOX:
The Community Action For Improvement can possibly help with energy assistance as needed. Contact the Newnan office at 770-253-3864. CAFI is located at 53 Savannah St.