Seniors Network  

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Beating  Winter Chills

Sometimes winter feels like it's trying to rob us of all of our strength. Cold weather can leave your joints stiffer and a deep chill can be hard to shake, leaving you more vulnerable to colds and flu.

Hypothermia - a decrease in the body's temperature below normal - 98.6- is a very dangerous condition that can happen after a short time of extreme cold or a prolonged exposure to mild cold. In addition, cold temperatures can make existing conditions, like arthritis or asthma, worse.

Older people and children are not as aware and should be wary of a slow change in temperature, allowing the cold to penetrate their systems.

Dress appropriately

  • Stay aware of the temperature with an Indoor/Outdoor thermometer. This will help you prepare to venture outside the home as well as warn you if the temperature drops.

  • Wear several layers of clothes. The warmth from your body will get trapped between the layers. Long underwear, like that designed for skiing, is particularly helpful for keeping you warm and dry.

  • You lose a lot of body heat through your scalp. A hat will help insulate you and keep you warmer. For the very same reason, you might consider a night cap for bedtime if you keep your home very cool at night.

  • Wear socks to bed and keep a dressing gown and slippers by the bed for those late night trips to the bathroom.

  • If your hands are always cold wear gloves.

Keep on the move

  • Moving around generates body heat. Don't sit for long periods of time at the computer or watching tv. Get up and move around to keep blood circulating to your feet and fingertips.

  • Alternate your household chores with periods of rest.

  • Maintain your general physical health with regular exercise. A regular program of walking is extremely beneficial, even in the coldest weather.

Use external heat sources.

  • A heating pad can provide heat to a chilled area, like your feet. It may seem harmless but be extra careful with this form of heat. You don't want to fall asleep with the pad on or allow your skin to be overheated, so be sure to get a heating pad with an automatic switch-off control. There are even heating cushions for the car, so no more cold car seats.

  • Hand, toe and body warmers are small packets that create heat when exposed to air. Perfect for putting in your gloves, shoe or under a sweater to heat up those isolated spots.

  • A nice soak in a warm tub is another heating alternative. If you cannot crouch down or get up from the floor of the tub, a bath lift can help you enjoy a bath again.

Eat and drink properly

  • A warm meal does more than provide warmth. It provides needed fuel to maintain the body's furnace.

  • Staying hydrated is very important. Hot drinks have the added benefit of making you feel warmer immediately. The medical community suggests avoiding caffeine, which is a diuretic and can cause water loss. Alcohol is also not recommended as it is a vasodilator which increases overall body heat loss.

Why risk your health when it is so easy to prevent being cold? Be aware of your body's need for warmth and enjoy the benefits of being stronger this winter!



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