Whether you’re aging in place or living with an older relative, you should be aware that winter comes with special risks to senior citizens. Here are some concerns to address if you or someone living with or near you is “of a certain age.”
Older adults lose body temperature faster than youngsters. Even sustained temperatures as low as 60-65°F can cause a senior’s body temperature to fall dangerously, a life-threatening condition known as hypothermia. Hypothermia can cause a loss of cognitive function, making a person unable to realize they are at risk and take preventive measures. It can also lead to heart attack, kidney problems, liver damage, and other health issues.
Help prevent hypothermia by keeping living and sleeping areas warm--68°F is a good minimum—and block drafty windows and doors. Keep the heating system in good repair and working order to avoid unexpected failures. If you use space heaters, be sure to operate them safely.
Dress warmly in the winter, both indoors and out, using multiple layers for added insulation. And pay extra attention to covering the head and neck since they are major sources of heat loss.
If heating costs are a concern, contact your local utility; most have programs for low-income seniors. Other resources include the National Energy Assistance Referral service and local area councils on aging.
Your body works harder to maintain its heat during cold weather. Strenuous activity adds an extra load and can lead to heart and respiratory problems. Leave the heavy stuff to the younger folks. While exercise is important to good health at any age, try to get it indoors during cold weather.
Dry Air and Pollutants
Winter heating dries out air, and tightly sealed homes can cause a buildup of indoor pollutants, both of which can aggravate problems in seniors and others with respiratory ailments. The dry air can also cause dry, itchy skin and eyes and irritate nasal membranes.
If your indoor air humidity is below 30%, adding a central or room humidifier can make winter more comfortable for seniors and others alike. Keeping furnace filters clean helps trap dust and other pollutants before they get into your home and portable or central air filters add extra protection.
Other Winter Concerns for Seniors
Some illnesses such as diabetes and thyroid problems can make it harder for seniors to regulate their body temperature, as can certain medications. If you or a loved one experience cold weather discomfort, check with a physician to see if treatment or changes of medication will help.
For more information about winter safety concerns for seniors, see this article on the National Institute for Aging website.
Improving winter comfort and safety can add an extra burden to your home’s electrical system. Appliances like space heaters, humidifiers and air cleaners can tax a system, and poorly insulated spaces can add to heating costs, tempting low-income and thrifty seniors to keep thermostats too low in the winter.
If you’re experiencing tripped breakers, overheated cords, or unusual electrical smells, call the pros at Allstar Electrical Services before things become dangerous. Adding outlets and upgrading service also minimizes the need for extension cords, which can be both fire and tripping hazards, especially for seniors and young children.
Allstar Electrical Services expertly delivers the quality results you expect on all our residential electrical services to ensure your project is done right, on-budget and on time. We’ve served the Colorado Front Range for over 15 years and are top-rated by the Better Business Bureau so don’t put up with potential hazards or risk costly emergencies. Visit our website for complete details about our services as well as timely articles about the latest developments in the ever-changing world of electronics. Then give us a call at 303.399.7420 or use our handy on-line forms to request an estimate or set up an appointment.