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​Cold Weather Tips from Hartford HealthCare Center for Healthy Aging

By Marc Levesque, M.S., Senior Resource Case Manager
Hartford HealthCare Center for Healthy Aging 

As the cold winter weather has finally descended upon us here in Connecticut, let’s look at 10 ways seniors can help combat these icy conditions:

  1. Wear multiple layers of clothing. Layering allows you to put on or take off clothing to adjust to changing environments allowing you a better chance of staying comfortable.
  2. Minimize your alcohol intake when out in the cold. When you drink alcohol, it dilates blood vessels near your skin, which means more blood– and heat – flows to these vessels. That takes blood and heat away from the core of your body. So while it feels like you’re warm because your skin is warm, your vital organs are losing heat.
  3. Wear a hat and gloves (along with your coat) outside. While it may be an old wives’ tale that you lose lots of body heat through your head it is true you will lose heat through any unprotected (head and hands) areas of skin.
  4. Stay dry. Heat loss from your body is much faster if your clothes or feet are wet. Look for water resistant or waterproof clothing and footwear in order to stay dry and warm.
  5. Protect your skin. Seniors are particularly prone to skin issues. Over time, a person’s skin becomes thinner, drier and more fragile. Consider moisturizing with an oil-based lotion, use sunscreen (yes, even in the winter), wear gloves, stay dry and hydrate.
  6. Move your exercise indoors. Exercise knows no off-season but it may be best to move your exercise program indoors when it’s extremely cold and icy outside.
  7. Pass on the snow shoveling. Shoveling snow can be one of the most unsafe activities anyone can undertake; from the chance of falls, orthopedic and cardiac challenges its best to leave it to someone else.
  8. Manage your windows. Combat possible drafts and heat loss through your home’s windows by using self-adhesive foam strips to help seal any gaps and applying an insulating film (found at your local home improvement store) and/or using heavy or insulated curtains.
  9. Don’t lose all your heat up the chimney. If you rarely use the fireplace, insert a fireplace stopper into the damper (that is taken out before fireplace use.) You can also install a glass fireplace door to help prevent heat loss.
  10. If all else fails, move south for the winter.

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