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Staying healthy in cold temperatures

February 7, 2014

In recent weeks, frigid winter weather has ravaged the country, with record-low temperatures making commutes torturous and health issues more common. Since Punxsutawney Phil let us know that there would be six more weeks of cold temperatures, there are several ways older adults can ensure their warmth throughout the next month or so, which is key this time of year for a healthy lifestyle for seniors.

Layer your clothing
According to the National Institutes of Health, senior citizens have a heightened risk of contracting hypothermia during colder months. Older adults who have been exposed to chilly weather, no matter how long, may be at risk for hypothermia due to underlying medical conditions or the use of certain medications. Because of this, they should be extra cautious during months when temperatures drop. Seniors should layer their clothing when indoors to ensure optimal heating conditions. Additionally, the government agency recommends that thermostats should never be set below 68 degrees as lower temperatures can heighten the risk of obtaining hypothermia.

Take care of your skin
Winter months pose a threat to any person's skin as cold temperatures can severely dry it out, leading to skin conditions that include eczema, dermatitis or psoriasis. lists a number of ways seniors can treat their skin to prevent or reduce the symptoms of these diseases. First, showers should be short and sweet, as longer exposure to hot water can actually strip moisture from your skin. After showers - and throughout the day - older adults should remember to consistently moisturize with lotion, then cover the area to reduce evaporation.

Any time a senior may find him or herself traveling outside, it is important to cover as much exposed skin as possible since frigid temperatures can lead to dry or cracked skin. Be sure to remain hydrated at all times, as the healthier your body is, the healthier your skin will be. 

Watch out for ice 
Slipping on a patch of frozen water can be disastrous, especially for older adults. Aging Care recommends that seniors wear rubber-soled shoes when walking in icy conditions to help maximize stability and prevent falls. They should also remember to only walk on paths that they can see - if the snow is covering a surface, ice may lie underneath. Be sure to travel on walkways or driveways that have been properly shoveled or otherwise cleared of dangerous wintry accumulations.