Take Care of Yourself During the Cold, Winter Months

Just as summer brings special challenges to people growing older, so too does the winter season. There are several issues it is prudent to be aware of. Hopefully knowing ahead of time what to expect will reduce the chances of encountering any of the following problems.

1. Hypothermia

The definition of hypothermia is what happens when your body temperature drops to a dangerously low level. This can happen during prolonged exposure to cold, when your body begins to quickly lose heat. Older people are more vulnerable to this phenomenon because of physiological changes that come with aging. Warning signs that hypothermia is setting in are: cold skin that is pale or ashy; extreme exhaustion; sleepiness and confusion; weakness; walking difficulties; slowed heart rate and/or breathing.

2. Frostbite

Frostbite occurs when the skin is so effected by cold temperatures that the damage goes down to the bone. Extremely cold temperatures can cause frostbite, with the outer extremities, such as the fingers and toes, most at risk. The nose, ears, cheeks, and chin are also vulnerable. Anyone with circulation or heart problems is at increased risk.

3. Shoveling Mishaps

Shoveling snow can be dangerous for anyone, but it is especially risky for older people. Remember that shoveling snow is strenuous and causes your heart to work overtime. If the cold is already taxing your heart, shoveling, especially for someone with heart disease, can be the last straw. Shoveling is also dangerous for people with balance issues and/or “thin bones.”

Take Care in the Winter Cold

Winter can be wonderful, especially if you have a warm place to take cover from the elements. Be careful during this challenging season, and remember to enjoy it.