Aging Gracefully: Why Am I So Cold?
Temperature affects individuals differently; while some people may find 60°F perfectly comfortable, others may need to reach for the nearest sweater. However, if you find yourself perpetually cold, there may be underlying issues you need to address.
Experiencing consistent chill could be a possible symptom of multiple common health conditions, such as hypothyroidism, cardiovascular disease, poor circulation, vitamin deficiency, diabetes, and eating disorders. Therefore, it is paramount that you inform your primary care physician that you regularly experience cold feelings.
Did you know that as individuals get older, metabolisms tend to dip? This lessens the elderly bodies’ ability to generate heat and maintain a “normal” temperature of 98.6°. Also potentially contributing to the heightened level of coldness are decreasing muscle mass and thinning of the fat layer under the skin.
How to Stay Warm if You’re Always Cold
Individuals who are almost always cold should make an extra effort to maintain a healthy temperature. After all, nearly half of all elderly individuals who develop hypothermia die from its effects. Ways to battle the chilling effects of aging include:
- Talking to your physician and following his or her advice: If a specific health issue triggers the consistent chilliness, it’s important to treat the underlying issue. Medications or vitamins can address many of the above-mentioned conditions, and can ultimately prevent the manifestation of additional symptoms.
- Wearing layers instead of bulky clothing: Layers allow the wearer to find the perfect temperature by adding or removing articles of clothing; contrastingly, having a single bulky coat as the only option for added warmth can force the older individual to choose between being too hot or too cold. Additionally, thinner layers that cling to the body and one another are more likely to trap body heat than a single thicker item that hang loosely from the body.
- Being prepared with cold-weather accessories: Items like gloves, hats, and scarves are compact enough for easy transportation outside the house. However, when you or your loved one becomes cold, these accessories can shield exposed skin from the elements and lessen the amount of heat that escapes the body.
- Eating regular meals: For some, aging prompts loss of appetite. Therefore, it is important that elderly individual and caretakers actively strive to maintain a healthy diet. Complex carbs, cumin, bananas, chili, and avocado all have proven capabilities to indirectly help raise body temperature. Plus, hot drinks like tea or cocoa can prove a delicious way to keep warm.
- Avoiding excessive alcohol intake: Though alcohol can make drinkers’ skin feel warmer, it actually lowers body temperature. What’s more, it can impede judgment and balance, placing older adults in vicarious situations. To learn more, read our article about alcohol consumption for seniors.
- Improving the home: For some older individuals, becoming warmer may be as simple as turning up the thermostat. However, others may contend with poorly insulated walls, as well as cold drafts that blow through their windows and doors.