5 Common Causes of Feeling Cold in the Elderly [How to Help]

The most common reasons that elderly people feel cold are usually tied to medical conditions like hypothyroidism or hypotension. But medications and physical changes in the body related to aging can also make seniors feel cold. Here are the most common causes.

causes of cold in elderly
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You might ask yourself why are you feeling colder now than when you are younger. May it be the tips of your fingers, the palm of your hands, or simply feeling cold all the time, this constant sensitivity to cold has become normal now that you’re older.

This might be a bother most especially to the elderly. It is not normal to always feel cold even during those hot weather days. This could mean that your tolerance level for coldness has gone low.

There are a lot of factors that contribute to this type of sensation for the elderly. Here are the five most common causes.

Causes of Cold Sensitivity in Seniors and the Elderly

1. Slow Metabolism / Hypothyroidism

Studies show that as you get older, your metabolism rate starts to slow down. Due to this fact, you start to burn energy a lot slower than those who are young. Heat generated by your body will also be lessened because of this reason.

There are also cases in which your metabolism even goes slower. This is because you may have the case of hypothyroidism. When you have this condition, it means that your metabolism rate is even slower than what you are supposed to have at your age. Your thyroid gland simply does not give of the right number of thyroid hormones needed by your body to generate heat.

If you are experiencing hypothyroidism, it is important to see a doctor immediately to get diagnosed. Here are some symptoms that you will notice if you have this condition:

  • Cold sensation in different parts of body
  • Heart rate is slower than usual
  • Hair thinning is faster
  • Constipation problems
  • Feeling depressed most of the time
  • Sudden feeling of tiredness

In case you can’t see a doctor immediately, here are some remedies that can help you get past this problem.

  • Start eating healthy – This means no sweets, carbs, and fatty foods. Eat lots of fresh fruits and veggies.
  • Eat small, frequent meals – This means that you should only eat small meals spread throughout the day. Your digestion levels are low when you have hypothyroidism. This will help you digest food faster.
  • Increase activity and exercise – It is important to always move your body. Even as an older adult, there are still many ways for you to exercise and be guided safely.
  • Take note of your diet – Keeping a journal or diary about your daily food intake is important so that you can monitor everything you eat and burn in a day.
senior man wrapped up in blanket because he always feels cold.
If you feel cold all the time – even on warm days – you should discuss the situation with your doctor as this can be a sign of medical problems.

2. Side Effects of Medications

It is understandable that as you get older, you take in a whole lot of medications in your body. They are important to keep you running. But, not all of your medications are without side effects. Studies show that medications such as beta blockers and calcium channel blockers have side effects that could cause you to feel cold.

If you are having this sensation, it is important to go see a doctor immediately in order to get a new prescription. Your medication might have side effects that are not good for you. There may be alternative medications that would be fit for you to take. A blood test may also be required by your doctor in this case.

Never make any changes to your medications without talking to your doctor first. If you can’t see a doctor immediately, here are some natural substitutes that you can take:

  • Fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants like dark and brightly colored veggies.
  • Foods rich in potassium like spinach, broccoli, bananas, and sweet potatoes
  • Natural herbs like garlic, hawthorn, and barberry

3. Low Blood Pressure / Hypotension

Also known as hypotension, this means that your blood pressure rate is lower than average. Although it is desirable by some and is common with the elderly, blood is slowly flowing through your body because of this condition. With this in mind, it means that it could affect your body temperature.

The symptoms of hypotension are as follows:

  • Cold feeling in some parts of your body including your fingertips, toes, palms, ears, and hands
  • Dizziness and nausea
  • Vision is getting blurry
  • Getting tired easily

If diagnosed with this condition, it is important to go see your doctor for medical prescription and medical advise. If not treated immediately, you might develop more implications other than just feeling cold.

4. Thinning Fat Layers and Skin

It is known that as you get older, your skin starts to feel thin and several fat layers on your body beings to dissolve. When this situation happens, you will surely feel cold almost all the time. This may be caused by a lot of factors like metabolism, a skin condition you don’t know you had, anorexia, or simply just because you are getting old and it is natural.

In order to remedy this situation, it is important to do the following:

gifts to keep elderly warm
Try using blankets, extra clothing, and hot beverages as simple ways to warm you up.

5. Not Eating Enough Food / Anorexia

This is also called Anorexia nervosa by medical experts. It is an eating disorder that can be life threatening. People who suffer from this condition are usually viewed as very thin people and this condition is also becoming increasingly common among the elderly. They also have a fear of gaining weight which causes them not to eat a lot.

We know that food is a source of heat and energy. If we don’t eat, we don’t get energy and can’t burn it to gain heat, thus making you feel cold.

The only possible treatment for this is to either go see a doctor or a dietician. They will help guide you on effective eating disorder treatments, what foods you need to eat on a daily basis, and even give you therapy to address your fear of gaining weight.

Wrapping Up

These are the different causes of feeling cold in the elderly even during times when the weather is hot. It is important to remember these causes to know whether or not it is time to consult your doctor and diagnose any underlying medical conditions.

You might also want to consider investing in an electric blanket, a space heater, or a heated mattress pad to help cope with your cold sensitivity.

About Scott Grant, ATP, CRTS® 365 Articles
Assistive Technology Professional, Custom Wheelchair Specialist, Medical Equipment Guru, Dad and Grandfather
I am a lucky dad to four awesome daughters and grandfather to three pretty terrific grandkids. When not working as a custom wheelchair specialist at a regional home medical equipment company, I enjoy early morning runs and occasional kayak trips. I am also a self-admitted nerd who loves anything from the 1980's. Learn More

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