Feeling Cold? A Surprisingly Normal Aspect of Aging

November 17th, 2020

Have you ever sat buried under a pile of blankets because you simply can’t get warm? If you find you’re often chilly, you may simply be experiencing age-related health changes. It’s surprisingly common for older adults to feel cold, even though others are comfortable at the same temperature. Furthermore, there are a variety of reasons you might experience this change. Here are some common causes.

  • Circulation Changes: The first reason is plain old age-related changes. Blood vessel walls get stiffer with age, meaning it becomes more difficult for the heart to circulate blood. Plus, the layer of fat that helps hold body heat also gets thinner.
  • Anemia: Anemia occurs when your body doesn’t have enough red blood cells to deliver oxygen to the body’s tissues. It’s fairly common in older people, affecting about 10% of people older than 65. Anemia can cause your hands and feet to feel cold. 
  • Side Effects from Medication: If you have certain health conditions, the medication you take to treat it might also make you feel cold. This is a common side effect of beta blockers, which you might take to treat heart disease. 
  • Diabetes: Diabetes can sometimes cause anemia. It can also affect your circulation. It can even cause something called peripheral neuropathy, which gives you sensations that contradict reality. For example, your feet may feel cold, even if they’re warm to the touch. 
  • Kidney Disease: If you have kidney disease, your kidneys aren’t able to filter out waste from the body as effectively as they should. If the waste builds up, this can actually cause your core body temperature to drop. Kidney disease can also cause anemia.

What can you do? 

If you or an aging loved one often feels cold, try stashing more blankets around the house. You could also invest in a nice pair of slippers—these ones, for example, are microwavable for maximum warmth. Or try one of these soft, fashionable throws—as a bonus, it’ll add a nice pop of color to your living room when it’s not in use. Still can’t get warm? Companies are now making personal space heaters that are safer than ever—look for one with timer, temperature, and speed controls to make sure it doesn’t run longer than you want it to.

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