8 Tips for Keeping Your Care Recipient Warm | Stay Warm this Winter

Chad Birt

Written by Chad Birt on Wed Nov 17 2021.

8 Tips for Keeping Your Care Recipient Warm | Stay Warm this Winter

Now that Daylight Savings Time is here, many Americans are preparing for the arrival of cold weather and the winter months. If you provide care for someone who's 65 or older, it's time to consider things you can do to keep them warm and maintain their body heat all season long.

Though anyone can experience hypothermia –– a condition that occurs when your body temperature drops to 95-degrees Fahrenheit or below –– it's especially common in seniors. That's because as you age, your skin becomes thinner, making it more difficult to regulate body temperature. What's more, certain health problems can affect your loved one's ability to sense changes in temperature, increasing the risk of potentially serious complications.

To make your caregiving responsibilities a little easier, we've compiled a list of 8 tips for keeping your care recipient warm. Let's dive in!

Set the Thermostat

One of the easiest ways to keep your care recipient warm is to set the thermostat at a comfortable temperature. The National Institute on Aging recommends keeping the home between 68-70 degrees Fahrenheit. If you're concerned about running up the electric bill, close up rooms that aren't being used. It's also a good idea to keep extra blankets on hand and to stuff a rolled-up towel under each of your doors to prevent warm air from escaping.

Dress accordingly

If your care recipient isn't able to maintain their body temperature, their heart, respiratory system, and kidneys are forced to work overtime. Fortunately, it's possible to reduce the risk of potentially serious complications, by dressing appropriately. To keep warm, encourage your loved one to wear layers of clothing. This rule applies, even if they spend the majority of their time indoors.

Make sure to include the following items in your care recipient's winter wardrobe:

  • Warm socks

  • Long underwear

  • Comfortable, close-toed shoes

  • Sweatpants

  • Sweatshirts

  • Scarves

  • Warm hats

  • Gloves or mittens 

  • Flannel pajamas (for cozy sleep)

Eat a healthy, balanced diet

Many older adults have difficulty maintaining a healthy weight. Not to mention, certain conditions like dysphagia (difficulty swallowing), can make it challenging to eat balanced meals. Even so, good nutrition is important. If your care recipient gets the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients they need they can better regulate their body temperature. On especially cold days, consider adding soup or a warm beverage, like hot chocolate or herbal tea into the mix. It's also a good idea to avoid beer, wine, or spirits because consuming alcohol results in heat loss.

Keep the bathroom cozy

Getting out of the bath or shower when it's cold outside can be a real shock to the system, especially for people at risk of hypothermia. To make the transition from wet to dry as comfortable as possible, keep clean, fluffy towels on hand. If the budget's available, you might also want to install a heat lamp or heated flooring.

Review your care recipient's medications

Many seniors take prescription drugs to regulate underlying health problems. If your loved one is one of them, touch base with their primary care physician. Certain drugs can affect the body's temperature, increasing the risk of hypothermia.

Insulate your home

Thin windows and walls make it easier for heat to escape outside. Whenever it's dark out, keep the windows closed and the blinds drawn. A window covering or window treatment is another great way to insulate. If you have cracks or holes in your walls or ceilings close them up with caulk or weather stripping.

Pack an emergency car kit

As a caregiver, your responsibilities involve taking your loved one to appointments and helping them run errands. If the car breaks down or you're in an accident, it's important you have items on-hand to keep warm until emergency personnel arrive on the scene. Pack a bag that includes several warm blankets, clean drinking water, an extra hat, gloves, scarves, and a battery-powered heater.

Prepare for power outages

Power outages occur frequently during the winter months. You might not be able to predict when an outage will occur, but you can create an emergency plan. Consider investing in a backup generator or a battery-powered heater. If those aren't options, see if there's a community center or shelter in your area. If you have somewhere to go and stay warm, you can help keep your loved one safe and healthy.

These are just a few of the things you can do to help your care recipient stay warm during the course of the winter. Here at Carewell, we don't carry blankets or heaters, but we do stock a variety of items to support caregivers and their loved ones.

If you have questions about any of the products we carry or need help making a decision, reach out to our friendly Care Specialists at any time. Call (800) 696-CARE or send an email to support@carewell.com.

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Chad Birt
Chad Birt

Chad Birt is a freelance medical writer who resides in Astoria, Oregon. When he isn't behind a keyboard, you can find him hiking, camping, or birdwatching with his wife Ella and their two dogs, Diane and Thoreau.