As the baby boomers age, concern about caring for the elderly, at home and in institutional care, has come into focus. Among the factors affecting elder health is temperature. If you’re responsible for caring for an elderly individual, how do you regulate the home temperature so it’s optimum for the health and comfort of that person?
Why Seniors Prefer Warmth
The elderly often have poor circulation and feel cold, so they prefer a higher level of warmth than most other people are comfortable with. Also, the elderly have less fat and muscle to insulate them, so they require warmer temperatures for comfort.
Warmer temperatures also help reduce the stiffness that older people are prone to. Cold conditions make it harder for stiff muscles to move.
Some health conditions that may make a senior need a higher temperature:
- Anemia, which happens when we don’t make enough red blood cells to carry oxygen, can make us feel cold, while low blood pressure and congestive heart failure may also contribute.
- Kidney damage from diabetes.
- Underactive thyroid, as well as arteriosclerosis (narrowing of blood vessels).
- Blood-clot-prevention meds.
- Vitamin deficiencies.
- Lack of hydration and lack of sleep.
While conditions that lead to chilliness are summarized above, be aware that seniors are easily dehydrated when conditions are too hot, so a good-functioning air conditioner is as important as a good heating system. Seniors also can’t regulate body temperature as well by sweating.
Each person is different, but it’s probably best to not let the room temperature go below 64 degrees for the elderly during the winter or above the mid-80s during the summer.
If you have a senior in your life, help them ensure they are using their HVAC equipment properly and that it is functioning properly. Be aware that some may tend to turn it off for fear of high utility bills, so you may have to monitor usage and seek help from government agencies or utility companies to ensure the seniors can pay the bills.
For more information on ideal home temperature, contact Detmer and Sons of Dayton.