Staying Safe and Healthy in Winter

May 15, 2021

We all feel cold in the winter. Even living in warmer climates, cooler nights and chillier mornings can mean more time exposed to cool air. While feeling a chill may not last long, getting too cold can actually make you sick. Especially if you are older, the risk is high since seniors lose body heat faster. Even more complicated is that certain bodily changes associated with aging can make it harder for you to feel cold.

Whether the cold creeps up on you or hits you smack in the face, it is important to take proper care of yourself during the winter. These tips may seem like common sense, but make sure you are paying special attention to your environment rather than how you feel. That is because you may not know that you are too cold until it is too late.

Set the right inside temperature

Use your thermostat to your advantage during winter months. Pre-set your heat to stay between 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit. While this may mean your heating, bill goes up a little, it is important to maintain a steady temperature inside to protect yourself.

You should also close doors and shut vents of rooms infrequently used to localize the heat to where you spend the most of your time.

Dress the part

Even in a warm home, it is possible to get the chills. On extremely cold days, dress warmly even if you are not going out. Keep your feet covered with socks and/or slippers.

If you have to venture out, make sure you have added enough to insulate yourself. A heavy coat, gloves, a scarf, and hat are never overkill when it is cold. Pay special attention to your head and neck since that is where you lose the bulk of your body heat, and do not forget to wear thick socks.

Pile up the blankets

Not only should you keep a blanket or two handy in the living room but use wintertime as an excuse to throw an extra quilt onto your bed. Keeping your legs covered with a light blanket while sitting on the couch, and enjoying your favorite holiday movie or reading a good book will not only make you feel cozy, but it also keeps you safe and warm. The same is true when you add an extra blanket onto your bed at night.

Monitor health problems that can impact body warmth

Certain illnesses, according to the National Institute on Aging, also make it harder for your body to stay warm. These include:

  • Thyroid problems, which can make it harder to maintain a normal body temperature if left unregulated.
  • Diabetes, which can prevent normal blood flow, making the body feel colder.
  • Parkinson’s or arthritis, which can make it harder to dress for colder weather.
  • Memory loss, which can prevent someone from taking the proper precautions before going out in the cold. 

Should you suffer from any of these, make sure you work closely with your doctor, during the winter, to take the necessary medications to maintain your health. It is also a good idea to ask a friend or family member to check in regularly to ensure you are feeling well.

Watch out for signs of illness

Even with a clean bill of health, one of the most common issues seniors experience as a result of being too cold is hypothermia.

Hypothermia occurs when your body temperature hits a dangerously low level. Signs include being cold, pale skin, feeling very tired, weak, confused, and a slowed heart rate or breathing. You may also struggle with moving around or feeling clumsy. You can even start slurring your speech. 

It is important to call 9-1-1 immediately should you experience any signs of hypothermia. Make sure to then wrap up in a warm blanket while you wait for paramedics to arrive.

Take care to avoid injury

Also, more common during winter are injuries from exposure to less-than-optimal conditions. Aside from slips and falls, frostbite is a potential issue. Common places on the body where frostbite can occur include cheeks, chin, fingers, and toes. People suffering from heart disease and other circulatory problems have a higher risk of frostbite. To prevent it, keep as much of your body covered when you are outside as possible.

Slips and falls can be a problem for those living in icy weather. Watch for walkways that are not clear, have icy areas salted or sanded, and if you use a cane, make sure the rubber tip at the bottom is not worn down and smooth.

Coverage that keeps you healthy all winter long

With the added risks to your health during the winter, it is important to have the right medical coverage. Make sure your Medicare benefits are working for you by consulting a knowledgeable insurance agent. 
At Healthcare Solutions Direct, you are our top priority. We work to find you the best coverage at the right price through a transparent and supportive process. Contact us today to learn more and stay safe this winter.

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