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Life Enriching Communities Blog

Do We Get Colder as We Get Older?

Posted by Twin Towers on January 17, 2017

senior couple bundled up against cold weatherHave you added another comforter to your bed this winter? Are your fingers and toes always cold? 

It’s not uncommon to feel colder as you age. It occurs due to natural changes in the body. The important thing is to realize that you may get colder faster. Know how to stay warm and how to keep your body protected from wintertime safety concerns such as frostbite, hypothermia and even sunburns.

Why Do We Get Colder as We Age?

Studies have shown that as we age, we have lower body temperatures due to a loss of thermoregulation, the process that allows your body to maintain its core internal temperature. 

Also, our circulation decreases as we age due to the walls of our blood vessels naturally losing their elasticity. When blood moves slower through our bodies, our extremities are colder and get colder faster. 

Another possible cause of feeling colder as we age is the thinning fat layer under our skin that conserves heat. Some medications and medical conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, can also cause problems with regulating body temperature. 

Want more healthy living tips for older adults? Get your free wellness guide here.

Dressing Warm in the Winter

Avoid risks of getting too cold by ensuring you dress appropriately when the temperature dips. Use these tips to help you dress warm in the winter: 

  • Dress in layers. Several thin layers insulate better than a few thick layers and allow you to strip off layers as you get warm.
  • Wear insulated boots with good traction to avoid icy slips when you go outside.
  • Buy winter socks. The socks you wear in summer likely aren’t thick enough.
  • Always wear a hat to retain body heat.
  • Wear gloves when outside. Use hand warmers if needed.
  • Stay dry. If you’re wet, even from sweat, a chill will set in faster.

Staying Hydrated in the Winter

It’s important to stay hydrated as this helps regulate body temperature and is essential to the function of cells, tissues and organs. In cold weather, we actually lose more fluids through respiratory water loss than on warm days. 

Our bodies work harder to stay warmer and may sweat more than we realize due to wearing heavier clothing. Also, when you see your breath in the cold air, that is water vapor your body is losing.

Tips to help you stay hydrated in the winter:

  • Drink water and other healthy fluids regularly, even when you don’t feel thirsty. Sense of thirst decreases as we age.
  • Start your day with a tall glass of water.
  • Maintain a healthy diet as food helps you stay hydrated. Plan for warm soups and teas on those frigid days.
  • Add more fruit to your diet. Fruit contains lots of water and can help boost immunity.
  • Stay active. The more active you are, the more likely you are to be drinking, eating and simply being aware of hydration and how you feel.

Wintertime Sunburns

Just like dehydration is both a summer and wintertime safety concern, so are sunburns. The snow reflects the sun’s rays, so you’re chances of getting a sunburn increase on those wintery white snow days. UV rays can be just as damaging in the winter as they are on the beach. 

Studies from Queensland Institute of Medical Research in Herston, Australia, show those who wear sunscreen daily, even in winter, had 24% fewer precancerous skin lesions than those who applied sporadically.

Tips for winter sun protection:

  • Choose multi-functional products, such as daily skin moisturizers that also include sunscreen.
  • Look for sunscreen products that do not contain artificial colors as these can irritate skin, especially dry skin.
  • Look for sun protection products that also contain healthy antioxidants for aging skin.
  • Be sure to cover often-missed spots: the lips, ears and around the eyes.
  • Carry lip balm with you that contains sunscreen. Lips easily get chapped and burned from the sun and cold wind in the winter.
  • Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes and to see better when it’s bright out.
  • Wear a hat to stay warm and protect your head, especially if you no longer have a full head of hair. 

Twin Towers is a continuing care retirement community focused on delivering exceptional, everyday experiences to seniors.achieving whole person wellness: a guide

 

Topics: Senior Health and Fitness

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