The cold wave that arrives in Europe affects us all, although age is a determining factor to perceive it in one way or another. The babies They are more sensitive to temperature changes because their thermoregulatory mechanism has not matured and still does not work properly. With age, this mechanism, which serves to adapt the body temperature to the changes that occur in the environment, suffers alterations and, for this reason, the old people, especially from the age of 75, are more vulnerable to cold and intense heat, and are more affected by sudden changes in temperature.
One of the consequences of aging is that the body loses heat easily and has more difficulty generating it. The cold, in addition, can aggravate the health problems that the elderly usually suffer, such as disorders of the circulatory system, and also increase the frequency and intensity of respiratory infections in this group. The blood vessels constrict and the blood circulation slows down, which increases the chances of suffering a heart attack or stroke. Taken to the extreme, an inadequate protection against the cold can cause a serious problem: the hypothermia, which can be deadly.
One of the consequences of aging is that the body loses heat easily and has more difficulty generating it
Therefore, the Spanish Society of Geriatrics and Gerontology (SEGG) has released a series of tips to prevent the low temperatures that are expected these days cause problems for this population group:
In the home, the minimum temperature will be 21ºC. In winter, numerous accidents occur by inhalation of carbon monoxide, and even fires in the home, by using certain heating systems. In the case of the elderly, especially if they live alone or suffer from any pathology that limits them, it is necessary to make sure to prevent these risks, and for this the most suitable are electric radiators.
Increase the consumption of foods that contain carbohydrates and proteins because they provide energy, and avoid alcohol, which produces a false sensation of heat by increasing the dilation of blood vessels, heat that is easily lost later due to cutaneous vasodilation. In winter you usually have less thirst, so you should not forget to hydrate yourself by ingesting an adequate amount of fluids.
It is necessary to stay active throughout the year, but when the weather conditions are adverse (too much wind, rain, ice or snow) you have to take precautions to avoid falls. It is better not to leave and, in case it is essential, to do so with proper footwear and during daylight hours.
In winter you also have to pay more attention to clothes. It is better to put on several layers, which can be easily removed when accessing places where the temperature is higher. The feet and throat should be well wrapped, and a hat or hood should be worn for the head because a quarter of the body heat escapes through it.
Source: Spanish Society of Geriatrics and Gerontology (SEGG)