Winter is well on its way and the weather is turning colder everyday. While for most of us, this simply means donning some extra warm clothing, the elderly may need to pay more attention and select clothes that are specially designed to keep them warm.
This is because the elderly don’t just feel the cold more than others but are experiencing a drop in body temperature when they are exposed to cooler temperatures, even for a short period of time. Their bodies are unable to generate heat the same way they used to for many different reasons.
In addition, the loss of the layer of fat just under the skin combined with thinner skin means they no longer benefit from being insulated. Insulation not only prevents cold from seeping in but helps retain heat better.
Clothing is therefore critical to fulfill the role of lost insulation.
6 Ideas for Warm Clothing for Elderly People
Between 40% and 45% of our body heat is lost through our heads. Wearing a head covering during winter is therefore critical to staying warm. Although hats for elderly men and women are traditional, beanies are a good solution to keep the head warmer and prevent heat loss.
This is because the beanie provides a layer of protection for the entire head and not just the top of the head as well as covering the ears.
Knitted woolen beanies are ideal because wool is especially good at retaining heat. A lining on the inside of the beanie provides an additional layer of protection against the cold and wind.
However, new tech means even better solutions for keeping the head warmer – heated beanies.
Check out these heated headwear solutions:
Gobi Heat Heated Beanies
These stylish beanie hats from Gobi Heat provide 140F and nearly instant warmth for the ears and head that lasts for up to 7.5 hours. Machine washable too!
Action Heat Battery Heated Winter Hat
This heated hat uses a rechargable 5V battery to provide heat to the ears and head in less than 10 seconds. Heat reaches a max temperature of 130F and lasts up to 4.5 hours. Recharges via USB.
The feet tend to get cold quickly in winter and are difficult to warm up – even with a pair of fuzzy warm socks. This is primarily because the feet are located furthest from the heart which affects circulation and therefore the ability of the feet to stay warm. This is significantly worse for the elderly where the heart and cardiovascular system need to work much harder to pump blood to the feet.
There are a number of different options available to keep feet warm in winter. Microwave heated slippers for seniors are ideal as they only take a couple of minutes to heat up but continue to produce heat for a few hours after heating.
Thermal insoles for shoes provide an additional layer of insulation preventing cold from leaking into shoes and heat from escaping. These insoles also make for greater comfort standing and walking and because they are just 1/4 inch thick, should not impact shoe size.
Some tech solutions that are also available (in the form of socks and boots that provide thermal heat constantly and are of course rechargeable) to keep elderly feet warm both in and out of doors include:
Volt Smart Heated Slippers
The faux fur slippers use ultra-thin stainless steel heated wires to keep your feet warm for up to 4 hours. Antislip soles for use indoors or out.
Hands are especially prone to the cold mainly because they are the most exposed part of the body. We are constantly using our hands so they are most often not covered. As we age, our hands get colder faster and are much more difficult to warm up. Insulated gloves are a must for the elderly when they are outdoors but can also help stave off the cold indoors.
There are a range of different ways in which modern gloves offer insulation as well as thermal heat. Some are lined and and made from materials that assist in generating heat. Others reflect the heat generated from the body to create thermal energy and therefore heat. The latest technology offers gloves that are heated electronically. Hand warmers are also ideal to warm hands that are already cold.
Gobi Stealth Heated Glove Liners
These heated glove liners heat the entire hand up to 6 hours with heating elements that go up and around each fingertip. They have 3 heat settings too so you can choose your preferred level of warmth.
Vive Microwavable Heating Mittens
These heated therapy mittens contain natural rice to provide warmth to cold hands. Just pop them in the microwave for up to 20 minutes of warm heat.
There is no better place to start warming the body than with the clothing that is worn closest to the skin. Thermal underwear is ideal to insulate, retain heat and even generate heat. There are a wide range of products available to provide additional warmth for the elderly taking both comfort and warmth into consideration.
Thicker products are highly recommended for the elderly. However, it is also advisable to take into consideration the fabric or material that these products are made of.
As skin ages, it becomes more sensitive and is prone to developing sores, tears and abrasions as well as skin conditions such as contact dermatitis which results in itchy, dry patches of skin or a raised red rash.
Choose thermal underwear that is ideally suited to the fragile and sensitive skin of the elderly.
No matter how warmly you dress, a draft on your neck and down the collar of your clothing is going to ruin your efforts. Cold necks lead to strain and can result in pain and tenderness. Scarves are the ideal way to keep senior’s necks warm and free from pain. Thermal scarves are also available that generate heat over and above providing insulation.
The best scarf is however largely up to individual preference taking into account factors such as comfort, the fabric and skin sensitivity. Keep in mind that the elderly have greater skin sensitivity and this can be especially noticeable in the neck area.
ActionHeat AA Battery Heated Scarf
Using simple AA batteries, this heated scarf provides up to 4+ hours of 120F heat. Scarf itself is made of weather-resistant plush fleece.
Check out these helpful ways on how to wear or tie a scarf in different ways that are fashionable and will keep the neck warm.
6. Ear Muffs
Even if you are wearing a beanie, there is nothing quite like a pair of earmuffs to keep ears warm and toasty in the coldest weather. While the ears don’t exactly contribute to a major percentage of loss of body heat, they are extremely sensitive to the cold. Cold ears can result in chapped and sore skin as well as painful ear infections.
Wearing ear muffs is a also a good idea for the elderly who are experiencing hearing loss. The muffs drown out noise preventing the further deterioration of hearing in the elderly. Many earmuffs for seniors are specifically designed for protection against hearing loss and not only to keep the ears warm on cold winter days.
A great warm gift idea for seniors are earmuffs that double as headphones. While your ears stay warm, you can listen to your favorite music, radio station or audio books.
7. Arm And Leg Protectors
Arm and leg protectors are designed to prevent tears and abrasions occurring on the fragile skin of the elderly. These garments are loose fitting, comfortable and designed specifically with sensitive skin in mind. While the protective coverings may not primarily focus on warmth, they do provide an extra layer of insulation to help the elderly keep warm.
There are a wide range of protective coverings available taking into account the needs of each individual. They are also available in a wide range of different colors and fabrics for the fashion conscious. However, the coverings are most commonly worn under clothing rather than over.
8. Face Masks
Much has changed in 2020 and one of the biggest is that the wearing of face masks has become the norm. Of course the reason for this is the Covid-19 pandemic that continues to spread on a global scale. Face masks filter out moisture droplets that carry the virus thereby protecting the wearer from contracting the diseases. It also prevents those who are infected with Covid-19 from spreading the virus.
Masks have the added benefit of filtering out other microorganisms such as bacteria, fungus and mold spores that can causes illnesses and diseases. Over and above this, wearing a face mask can actually help keep you warm. Not only does the mask protect your face against the cold but also prevents heat escaping through respiration.
Every time we exhale, we lose a small amount of heat from our bodies. This is evident in the steam that comes from our mouths on really cold days. Wearing a face mask prevents this heat from escaping and therefore keeps the face and the whole body warmer. Keep in mind that the elderly do not replace lost heat efficiently and preventing heat loss is therefore critical.
It is also important to be aware that the elderly are at a higher risk of contracting Covid-19 and that the disease causes a greater percentage of fatalities in seniors. Wearing a face mask is critical in these unusual times that we find ourselves living in.
Check out some of the best face masks for the elderly that offer effective filtration while not affecting the ability to breath comfortably:
Layering garments is another good way to keep the elderly warm during winter. Always ensure that an extra sweater or jacket is available and remember that layers can always be removed if you start getting too hot.
It is also not necessary for warm clothing to be unattractive. There are a wide range of trendy clothes available for fashion conscious seniors that are also designed to keep them warm.
However, comfort and factors such as skin sensitivity should also be taken into consideration when choosing a winter wardrobe for seniors and clothing items that are specifically designed with warmth in mind.