With the night’s drawing in, winter is definitely on its way. Sadly, each winter 1 older person dies every 7 minutes from the cold weather and many more become seriously ill.
Why are older people more susceptible to the cold?
Cold temperatures can be very dangerous to older people’s health, as they not only increase the likelihood and severity of flu and respiratory problems, but being cold also thickens the blood and increases blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Age UK research highlights that there is a general lack of awareness of the effects that cold weather can have on an older person’s health. There is also a widely held belief that leaving a window open on a cold winters night to let in fresh air is good for your health, whereas that opposite is true – breathing in cold air lowers body temperature and can increase the risk of chest infections.
As we get older, it gets harder for our bodies to detect how cold we are. This is because we become less efficient at responding to and recovering from exposure to the cold.
The good news is that there are simple steps that older people can take to keep warm and well this winter:
- Keep your living room temperature at the ideal temperature of 70⁰F (21⁰C)
- Keep your bedroom at the ideal temperature of 65⁰F (18⁰C)
- Keep your bedroom window closed at night when the weather is cold
These temperatures are based on the World Health Organisation’s recommendations. If older people still feel cold in their homes in these temperatures, they should raise the temperature of their thermostat until they feel comfortable.
Support our campaign
Through Age UK’s Winter Health campaign, we are calling on everyone to recognise the importance of keeping warm and well this winter and to think about older friends, neighbours and relatives as the temperature drops.
Help us to get the message out! Age UK has a range of campaign materials to order for free.
- Recipes for a warmer winter booklet, which is full of warming and delicious winter recipes
- Room thermometers, which can tell if your room is at the right temperature to keep you well
- Display our posters in your local library or community centre
- Ideal temperature for your bedroom poster
- Ideal temperature for your living room poster
- Shut your bedroom window poster