Ever wondered why you become more or less sensitive to temperature as you age? There are a number of scientific and health reasons why temperatures affect us differently throughout different stages of our lives. Body temperature changes as we age, and it is a normal part of our lives. Body fat, muscle mass, skin, and sweat glands all contribute to temperature changes.
What causes Temperature Swings?
As we get older, it becomes more difficult for our body to control its temperature. This is due to a decrease in fat. Fat naturally insulates our body and helps regulate temperature, much like wild animals. Our ability to sweat also changes as we age and reduces over time making it hard for us to tell when we are being overheated. This puts you at a higher risk of suffering from a heat stroke, this is known as heat stress. It can even be dangerous when the temperature drops as you are not able to warm your body up. Thinning skin also causes our bodies to not regulate temperature properly. A lower metabolic rate and slower circulation also make it hard to retain heat. A body temperature of lower than 95 degrees can lead to other health problems such as kidney problems, liver damage, and heart attacks.
Tips for Keeping Warm
If you or your loved one mentions that they are feeling cold, it’s imperative to act fast. Hypothermia in older adults is a real threat. Primary caregivers should always be on the lookout for any sudden change in temperatures or how those in their care are feeling. The best way to make sure you or your loved one does not fall susceptible to hypothermia is to make sure the thermostat is always set at an appropriate temperature as a leading cause of hypothermia is a poorly heated home. Secondly, make sure that your loved one is always dressed well. Layers, hats and gloves are important. Use food to fuel your internal fire. Eating larger meals and drinking hot drinks throughout the day can help a lot.
Tips for Keeping Cool
In order to keep cool, especially during the hotter months, the best thing to do is drink more water than you think you need. Dehydration is another problem that older adults are at a higher risk of, not to mention when the weather starts heating up. Just like keeping your house warm when it’s cold, you need to make sure the temperature is right for the summer. Air conditioning, fans, black-out curtains, and showers are what is needed throughout the day to keep cool. Next thing is to plan your summer activities at an appropriate time. Make sure not to be out in the sun when it’s at its zenith. Doing things earlier or later in the day could save you from a heat stroke. Lastly is to listen to your body as closely as you can. In our later years, our body may not correspond with us the same way it used to, and we may need to pay extra attention to it. If you feel the first signs of being uncomfortably hot, act immediately.
With our body becoming more sensitive to temperature changes as we age, it is important to watch out for the signs our body is trying to tell us. It would be wise to take preemptive steps as well.