My Mother recently said to me “Why Am I Always So cold”, it was a warm day in the month of July (our summer) she is 87 and often suffers with both Hot and Cold extremes. This got me thinking there has to be a medical scientific reason to this reaction and if she like a lot of very elderly people respond in this way then I wanted to research the answer
Feeling continually cold despite the ambient temperature? these are the six most common reasons why the elderly are often cold.
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Heart Disease
- Kidney Disease
- Reaction to current medication
My mother, however, suffered none of the above and yet would often be on the edge of extreme temperatures regardless of the weather or climate. I too suffer with feeling hot when everyone around me is cold. Hormonal? very likely. Does this therefore indicate we have to put up with extremes? The short answer is No, in fact I discovered why we feel so cold and how best to cope.
What Causes a Person To Be Cold All The Time
Most likely its symptomatic of an underlying medical condition, top of the list is Anemia, a condition often caused by not having enough iron in your blood, as a result one of the side effects is something called hypothyroidism, a condition in which the body does not make enough of the thyroid hormone to help it control basic metabolic functions. If you or someone you care about is continually cold then a blood test is the first step. Anemia is serious if left untreated but easily solved once discovered. A blood test will also highlight if there are any other issues. For example Type 2 Diabetes, Kidney or Heart Disease.
In the case of my mother it was actually a slow and consistent lack of fluids into her body which caused continual and regular dehydration. She would often mistake thirst with hunger (not uncommon) and continue the downward spiral. Almost proud of her lack of need to drink, despite the hot weather, with the excuse, “well I have never previously needed to drink” On further research I discovered it is not uncommon for elderly to drink very little aside from Tea or Coffee, thus prone to fairly extreme side effects, like feeling extreme hot and or cold, constipation, tired, lack of energy and poor sleep patterns.
As previously mentioned there are some common reasons why you or a loved one might be feeling continually cold, often linked to an underlying health issue which you may already be aware of. One of the alternative reasons and often missed, are possible side effects of current prescription medication. In particular like Beta Blockers or the calcium channel blockers. Click here for further information from WebMD
Underweight/Anorexia. One of the many side effects of being medically underweight is feeling cold, often linked to lack of iron in the blood, (anaemia,) coupled with a lack of vitamin B12, both of which result in cold extremities.
* See below for help with Eating disorders
Drinking too much, Alcoholics, substance misusers will possibly suffer with many of the above and as a result an additional side effect will be cold to the touch, whilst being under the influence may mask the problem.
* For help and support surrounding substance misuse see below
* Sleeping issues – Are you getting enough sleep, often if you are exhausted or not sleeping too well then you may well feel the cold. If you have sleeping issues and struggle to sleep or indeed stay asleep, then this too is a significant side effect.
Asking the important questions around your health and lifestyle will help to uncover what is likely to be the issue. First step to getting better and feeling warmer.
How To Keep Warm Especially In The Winter.
What if ifs not Medical? Some practical solutions to keeping warm
- When going outside, dress in layers, especially Hat, Gloves and Scarf
- Keep the cold out. .. If raining ensure you wear proper protection
- Stay Active, keeping your metabolic rate raised will ensure you feel warmer.
- Ensure you sleep in the appropriate place (not in the chair late at night)
- Maintain the temperature in your house and try to keep it at an ambient setting even at night
- Good quality and warm winter bedding – Wear loose fitting PJ’s in bed
- Eat regularly, warm foods and warm drinks .
- Do not use Alcohol to keep you warm
- Call someone if you feel cold and lethargic
- Call someone if you are unable to get warm
Is There an Ideal Room Temperature
- According to the NHS website, the temperature inside your home should not reach below 18°C or 64°F if you are over 65 years old or have a health condition, such as heart or lung disease.
For many, heating the house and keeping it warm is a concern, many, fear they will not be able to afford the energy bills over the winter period. Despite knowing, it is detrimental to their health there is an understandable worry about costs. As a Carer or family member this can also cause anxiety.
Starting with proper insulation together with dressing in layers. Keeping the house warm is essential and keeping the heat in the house is also key.
Here’s a quick look at some ways you can keep on top of winter weather:
- Service the Boiler regularly and make the heating as efficient as possible
- Draught excluders – simple sausage dogs along a closed door,
- The letter box in the front doors also a place needing some attention.
- Do not block or cover radiators with furniture or damp clothing.
- An old-fashioned type temperature with easy to read numerics
- Self Timer on the heating seems obvious but many (my mother included will simply manually override and forget she has turned the heating off) Never dropping below 18c or 64.4f
If you live in the UK and were born 1953 or before the government will provide a “Cold Weather Payment” this will vary from £100 to £300. If you are unsure where or how to go about claiming click on the attached link..for further information, where and how to claim.
Will I Get More Prone to Cold As I Age
Short answer is Yes. As we age our bodies will struggle to retain the heat it did when younger. This is largely because our metabolic rate will slow. Therefore, keeping active is key to keeping warm, has the dual effect of raising the metabolic rate together with keeping both the heart rate and the body healthy. Taking the dog for a short walk is better for you than nothing.
If you or someone close to you notices that you or a loved one is often cold, then investigate. It is very likely to me medical or as in the case of my mother lack of fluids. Keep the house an ambient temperature and keep that body and mind active.
If you are still reading this blog then I would like to thank you. I would welcome any thoughts you may have or if you have any insights into keeping safe and warm during the winter. Please add to the comment box below.
Founder of Hey Spring Chicken
Media and Web Links to :
Web MD, OA, CA, AA, NA
Images from Pixabay & WA
For help and support for you or a loved one surrounding Eating Disorders, Alcoholism and Substance Misuse do not suffer in silence, there is a large community waiting to help and guide
* Al Anon – For family or friend who doesn’t know what to do surrounding a loved one in Active Addiction
https://al-anon.org/al-anon-meetings/find-an-al-anon-meeting/ USA and Worldwide
* Substance Misuse – Support and Help to surround any drug or prescription drug misuse
* Anorexic – Binge/Purge or an Overeater click on the attached link.
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