Seniors have thin skin, which makes them more sensitive to the chill of winter, and loss of the fat layer beneath their skin causes them to lose body heat. However, thoughtful preparation can protect your elderly loved one against the hazards of winter. Toronto, ON, elderly care experts share 5 items your loved one needs to have before going outside in the colder months.
1. Layers of Clothing
Dressing in layers insulates against heat loss, and it also facilitates the transition between indoor and outdoor environments. Once inside a building, your loved one can easily remove clothing that’s making him or her too warm. REI, the athletic outfitter, suggests wearing three layers of clothing during cold weather conditions:
- Base – Worn against the skin, this layer manages moisture and wicks away perspiration and water that can further chill your loved one. The ideal fundamental layer for seniors is silk. Cotton retains moisture, wool can itch skin, and synthetic fabrics may trigger sweating.
- Insulation – This covering protects against cold by keeping heat close to the body. Fleece shirts have the advantage of being breathable.
- Shell – This outer mantle repels rain and wind. Water beads up and rolls off the fabric. A shell should be roomy enough to comfortably fit over other layers and allow free movement.
Anywhere skin is exposed, heat is lost. Livestrong advises that acrylic and wool have the ideal properties for a cozy hat. Acrylic resists wrinkles and stains, holds color, retains its shape, and is inexpensive. It’s also lightweight and easy to care for. For seniors with sensitive skin, acrylic is preferable to wool, which wicks moisture and is water-resistant. Its delicate texture requires attentive care with washing. Cleanipedia advises putting wool clothing in a mesh laundry bag before machine washing. Use a mild laundry detergent and the “delicate” setting on your washer, then air dry until slightly damp and reshape clothing to its original form. Blended fibers feature lightweight warmth and wicking capacity from both acrylic and wool. These hats also require caution with washing, as does pure wool.
3. Footwear, Gloves, and Mittens
Boots with nonskid soles protect against falls on slippery surfaces. REI reports that mittens are typically warmer than gloves. Fingers emit more heat when not separated by fabric. However, gloves offer better dexterity than mittens. If your loved one doesn’t need to handle items outdoors, mittens are preferable. Gloves and mittens made of Gore-Tex are waterproof, windproof, and breathable. Another option is a silk liner under mittens. Battery-powered hand coverings provide the most warmth. Using rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, they generate varying levels of heat, and they’re slightly bulkier and heavier than conventional clothing. Size and fit are also crucial to staying warm. When gloves and mittens are too small, they leave skin exposed at the wrists and restrict movement.
4. Hand and Toe Warmers
Chemically activated heat packs are handy protectors against frostbite. The small pouches slip into mittens, socks, shoes, and boots, providing 5 to 8 hours of warmth.
To activate a pouch, your loved one needs to gently shake it, being careful to avoid ripping the paper sheath. It takes roughly 20 minutes to reach maximum heat. The more time a warmer spends in open air, the hotter it becomes, to the point where it can burn skin. Upon activating a warmer, your loved one should wrap it in a handkerchief, then place the pouch directly into a mitten, sock, shoe, or boot. Toe warmers have an adhesive side your loved one can affix to footwear so it doesn’t shift.
Staying warm isn’t the only way for your loved one to remain healthy during the winter. Learn some additional tips by reaching out to Home Care Assistance. We are a leading provider of respite and 24-hour care, and we also offer specialized Parkinson’s, post-stroke, and dementia care Toronto seniors can trust and rely on. For more information on our at-home care services, call (416) 488-8777 today.