According to the National Institutes of Health, older adults are especially vulnerable to the cold: “Their body’s response to cold can be diminished by underlying medical conditions, some medicines, and aging itself. As a result, hypothermia can develop in older adults after even relatively mild exposure to cold weather or a small drop in temperature.”
Because of this, it is important to wear layers in winter. The base layer should be a fabric that wicks moisture away, such as polyester, bamboo, or rayon. (Cotton and other natural fabrics actually hold onto water.) The next layer of clothing can be wool, flannel, or a fleece material for additional warmth. Not everyone likes to wear shoes in the house, but wearing socks and nonslip shoes, such as fleece slippers, can ease a chill, as can wearing a scarf or woolen beanie-type hat.
For those who tend to stay cold all the time or if the temperature drops way below freezing, it might be wise to invest in thermal underwear. While Cuddl Duds is a popular brand, Lands’ End and L.L.Bean are two other companies that specialize in warm clothing and have many underlayer options.
Caregivers can make things easier for their loved ones by keeping sweaters and blankets scattered around the house so that no matter where someone is, they are within easy reach of something to keep them warm. Some blankets even come with lap pockets.
By Carrie Vittitoe
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