Keeping the elderly warm this winter

by | Oct 12, 2021

Keeping the elderly warm this winter is probably more challenging than in previous years, because of the gas and electricity supply crisis uncertainty.  Many elderly people will be worried about soaring gas bills and may be tempted to reduce their thermostat temperature in their homes.

In this article we’ll look at:

  1. Why the elderly are vulnerable to cold weather
  2. What they can do to their homes to keep them warmer for longer
  3. What gadgets are available to help keep their body temperature healthy
  1. Why the elderly are vulnerable to cold weather

Older people are more susceptible to cold weather because as we grow older, our blood circulation decreases due to our arterial walls losing their elasticity.

Coupled with this, our fat layers under the skin, which help to conserve heat, start to thin and lose their capability to retain heat.

Also, as we age, our metabolic response to cold is slower, mainly because we become less active.

That’s why it’s so important to keep the elderly warm and comfortable.  Unfortunately, due to the decrease in metabolic response to cold, very often the elderly don’t actually realise that they’re cold until they start showing signs of hypothermia.

  1. What can the elderly do to their homes to keep it warmer for longer?

There are a myriad of things that you can do to increase heat retention in our homes during the winter months.  Most of them are free and by utilising some of these simple tips, it could help to keep the elderly warm and comfortable.

  • Curtains – heat escapes through windows and doors, so it stands to reason that a thick pair of curtains would help to retain more heat than a pair of thin ones.  The aim here is to retain as much heat as possible, so it’s best to draw the curtains closed as soon as it becomes cold and only open them when the outside temperature rises.
  • Draught excluders – draughts can be found coming through doors and windows. To eliminate these cheaply, draught excluders can be used to effectively block the cold air from coming into the room.
  • Body heat – no lounge in the UK should be without a couple of blankets or fleeces strewn on the sofa in the wintertime. They’re a cheap way of retaining body heat whilst sitting watching the television in comfort.
  • Layering – it’s well known that wearing multiple layers of thin clothing is better at retaining heat than one thick jumper. Therefore, a thermal vest, t-shirt and jumper will help trap body heat between the layers and keep you warm for longer.
  • Maximise your heat source – make sure that your furniture isn’t blocking the heat source from radiators or other heat sources. A well thought out furniture layout of a room can help circulate the heat in a room.
  • Plug-in radiators – you can easily increase the heat source by using transportable, electric plug-in radiators. They can be carried from room to room where you need them, can be put on a timer to control costs and can be switched off when your room has reached an ambient temperature.
  • Stop the cold from ceramic floors – rugs can play a very important part in keeping the cold out. Kitchens and bathrooms would benefit from the addition of a couple of thick rugs to act as a barrier from the cold floors.  Equally, they can offer another layer of heat protection over a carpet.
  • Electric blankets – there’s nothing worse than being warm in your lounge, only to have to get into a freezing cold bed. All your body heat has immediately left you!  Think about having an electric blanket that heats your bed before you retire.  It’ll be a welcome addition to a cosy and comfortable nights’ sleep.
  • Keep your feet warm – they say that if your feet are warm, your body is warm, so why not consider boot style, fleece slippers? They’re both warm and comfortable and will help retain body heat.
  • Keep your head warm – about 15% of our body heat is lost through our heads, so a warm, woollen beanie may come in handy when we’re inactive.
  1. Gadgets that can help keep the elderly warm in the winter
  • Most of the gadgets out there run on rechargeable batteries, but they can be really effective in helping the elderly keep warm this winter.  Some of the most popular are:
  • Heated jackets – plug ‘em in, they heat up and will keep you warm both inside and outdoors. The heat lasts for about 4 hours, after which they need recharging.
  • Rechargeable hand warmers – these work in pretty much the same way as heated jackets, just on a smaller scale, obviously!
  • Microwaveable mittens – you just heat them in the microwave and they will help your hands and fingers keep warm
  • Heated socks, scarves and hats – again, they are all rechargeable and most offer 3 levels of temperature.
  • Smart thermostats – these can help enormously by reading the ambient air temperature and adjusting the heat output from your heat source accordingly

These are just some ideas of how to keep the elderly warm this winter, but the list is not exhaustive.

If you would like more information or advice on keeping the elderly warm this winter, then take a look at our website www.sydenham-house.co.uk.  We are a residential care home set in the beautiful village of Blakeney, Gloucestershire, offering residential care for up to 19 people.