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Hi, Friends: My 90-yr-old mother is always cold and she seems to be getting colder every day. We live together in Florida where it's still in the mid-80's. Although she would prefer to turn off the a/c and let the house get to 85 degrees, the system is set at 80 and she's still wearing a man's plaid flannel shirt buttoned to her neck.


She is not sedentary. She is up walking almost constantly as she thinks of things that she needs to do so I assume her blood is circulating fairly well. She takes only BP meds and is otherwise healthy.


QUESTION:
Is her "getting colder" issue normal, or a symptom of something more serious?


Thank you!

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I don't know if anybody's mentioned thyroid, but my mom has taken medication for this, is always cold anyway, but her blood level was checked, and they increased her medication. She truly has not mentioned being cold for a few weeks now.
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FF, I'm glad you raised the issue of the cooler light bulbs. I had noticed that as well, but thought it might just be me.

So I guess now we have to change light bulbs between hot and cold weather, like we used to have to change screens on the older windows every time the seasons changed.
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Yes, meds and certain illnesses can make one feel cold. My Mom was on thyroid pills thus she was very cold. What helped Mom was thermo underwear made by Duddl-Dudds. These undergarments were very light weight but kept the body heat in. My Mom wore them year around.

Another thing we noticed, Dad had taken out all of the old fashioned light bulbs and replaced them with those curly fluorescent type bulbs. Dad said it will save him money. Well, much to Dad surprise, Mom complained how cold it was and Dad had to up the heat. So much for saving $$. Those new bulbs weren't putting out the heat that the old bulbs use to generate. Mom wanted the old bulbs put back in, especially at her reading chair.

Another observation, my family room is on a concrete slap. Burrrr in the colder weather. Purchasing a large area rug to put over the builder's rug did make a difference :)  Careful watching one's step.

Oh, and tuck that shirt into one's pants... you will notice a difference.
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You might check out the side effects of her meds.
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My Mother ALWAYS wanted a heating pad across her tummy and across her back,as she sat in her liftchair and a blanket covering her and a warm robe on ALL the time.She had COPD,so I had to keep the house cool and she needed a fan on her to breathe,so we had both hot and cold going on at our house all the time at the same time,but she was comfortable and that's all that mattered.
I hope you find something that helps you.Take good care,Lu
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myrealtygal: The answer to your question depends on the following--
#1 She she taking Coumadin?
#2 Where does she hail from?
#3 Is she a native Floridian? (basically same as #2)
#4 What other underlying factors might she have, e.g. PAD, CAD, edema of lower extremities?
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I am 83 and I turn on my electric blanket almost every night, even in summer. I have it set on low (2 out of 10 settings). I think if thyroid and other health thingies are ok, it is probably just her getting old.
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As we age the circulation is not what it was when younger.
The body has 2 main goals.
1. Keep the "core" warm and functioning.
2. Keep the brain functioning.
In order to do both of those things the blood is circulated to the core, the heart, lungs, liver, stomach..as well as the brain. Because most of the blood is circulating here there is less for the fingers and toes, then later the hands, feet then later the arms and legs.
Keeping a hat on the head will help. Keeping nice warm socks on the feet and if you have them leg warmers will help the feet and legs. A "muff" if you can find one will help the fingers and hands. If you can't find a muff then a nice cozy throw will help.
If the person is ambulatory you could use one of the heated throws or a heating pad but do not use them if the person is not ambulatory or able to verbalize if it is getting warm. And if they have lost any sensation to the extremities do not use on of the electric ones. It is easy to over heat or get a burn.
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As we age our bodies structures change causing us to feel colder (changes in skin, amount of fat) and also our body functions (circulation being a prime factor). Movement is also key - if you are not moving, you are not using your muscles and you are not generating your own heat! Many older adults who don't move well then end up feeling colder. Can your mom get up and move more? If she doesn't walk well, how about some simple exercises? This will not only warm her up, but has positive benefits on improving cognition, mood and overall body functioning. In fact, moving is very important in the prevention of constipation. Try incorporating movement into fun(ctional) activities like batting a balloon back and forth, kicking a ball while sitting, folding towels/clothes, mixing a batch of brownies or a cake by hand, putting together a vase of flowers from the grocery store, crafts.
Hope this helps...a gerontological occupational therapist.
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If the feet are warm most likely the whole body is too - try down slippers - they go above ankle so feet are warm but not much support for the foot -

I go to a pool for warm water exercise several times a week - I am so hot for hours after being in it for an hour - does she have access to similar? - I can steam up inside of my glasses from the heat I absorb - can she also try a hot bath after breakfast?
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Like the others, I would say it's normal. And it can swing both ways!
Last winter my DH had me running around in my underwear because I had to keep the house so hot for him. It was difficult for me to be in the same room.

Then, all of a sudden, 75 was hot! Now I had to keep the house cold for him and I was wearing sweats in the house.

Thankfully, it settled out. I can now keep the house around 75 degrees and he's happy with his fuzzy blanket. I do keep a space heater by his area of the room 'just in case'.
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It is normal, she is 90 years old. As she is aging she can get even colder.
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Something else I've planned but not yet done is to make fleece lined covers for chairs, not just for recliner type chairs, but also and especially for the backs of kitchen chairs. I haven't worked out the design, but they would fit snugly along the chair back with"wings" that could be wrapped around the person to the front, then snapped, buttoned, or otherwise held together. I haven't figured out how to allow for keeping the wrap close but still leaving flexibility for moving hands and arms while eating.
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Just my observation...as people age, they exercise and move around less, becoming more sedentary. The body doesn't generate as much heat. So the person gets colder. That's happened to me.

CW's right about iron; I can tell when mine is too low b/c not only do I feel too tired (and lazy) but I get colder. Same with Glad's comment about thinning skin. That too is one of the maladies I've picked up as I slide into old age. My feet were the first to become thin skinned.

Since your mother isn't sedentary, it might also be that her circulation is deteriorating due to age. I've noticed my own hands are bluish and feel cold more often. And skin is thinning there as well. (I'm just wearing out all over!)

I also get cold easier if I don't exercise enough. Just moving things around and reorganizing makes a big difference though. And it's part of my downsizing plan!

Some tips I've found workable:

1. Sweatshirts, especially the heavy duty ones, provide a good level of warmth. I wear two at a time, sometimes pushing the fabric forward so the back of the shirt is closer to my own back. I'm thinking about buying them in 2 different sizes so one is tighter and closer, but covered by a larger one.

2. Flannel lined shirts and jackets work well for my father. He also has a few flannel shirts lined with a kind of fleece/Sherpa like fabric. Those work the best for him. Hats with flaps keep his ears warm.

His favorite warmer though are my car seats! This is the first car I've head with capability to heat seats, so this was a treat for both of us. I've found it's also good for backaches; it's like a giant heating pad.

As Dorianne wrote, fleece (good quality) is wonderful for providing warmth, and it's soft and comfortable.

3. Wear mittens instead of gloves; fingers touching other fingers keeps them warmer than they would be if separated in gloves. Years ago I started making some mittens for my father. I made them extra large with double, natural (no synthetic) quilt batting. (I'm still working on getting the quilting done!)

4. Buy insulated or double knit socks, knee length if you can get them. The insulation and especially the double knit offer much more warmth. I wear double knit socks all winter long. Thick or fleece lined slippers also work well, but you might have to get them a size larger.

5. Same with sweatpants, if she'll wear them (some women raised in the era of women wearing dresses aren't comfortable with sweatpants). I have two that are heavy duty, and really warm. Searching for that same brand and style to buy extras has been disappointing. The company still produces sweats, but its pants line also includes more yoga pants than sweats, which I don't want. Skin tight pants are for younger women.

I'll probably end up going to a sporting goods store and buying something more suitable for winter hiking, or I'll end up making my own extra warm pants - that's probably the better option. I might even make flannel liners for them.

6. Years ago I used to wear dance leotards under my sweatpants. When I shovel snow, I wear leg warmers over my sweats - it makes a big difference in blocking the cold.

7. Hot chocolate, tea or decaf coffee helps with quick warmth, if her diet allows those treats.

8. An herbal heating pad not only warms specific parts of the body, but the aroma is so fragrant that it's soothing and relaxing. You can make your own; I added cinnamon in the ones I made as I didn't have the geranium fragrance as the purchased ones did. Cinnamon also is wonderful for aromatherapy, and for me that diverts attention from being cold.

9. When you're not working outside of your house, you can also plan baking sessions, as a relaxation time for both of you. In the morning or early evening, it can help warm the house, and you can take a break (which you probably need as it seems you're a full time caregiver as well as realtor (based on your screen name) and just spend some quality time together.
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It could be related to age, but, I'd have her thyroid checked. An imbalance can make you very cold. I had that happen with myself and was placed on meds. It really helped. Brought back my energy level too. My dad also has that and takes meds for it.
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Thank you, All: I will look into iron level as a possible secondary cause, cwillie. Thank you for that advice. I also like the idea of fingerless mittens! Her hands are like ice. As for the temperature, I can only wish I could set the system below 79! She's wearing extra clothing and complaining at 80! Best Wishes to every caregiver out there.
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Has she had her iron levels checked? Vitamin B12 may help, I know several old ladies who get the shots, or there are sub lingual tablets.
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Like many other residents of her NH, my mother was always cold. We put a sign up in her room reminding staff that she needed a sweater every day, year round. She often had a suitably sized blanket over her lap as she sat in her wheelchair. My sister made her several pair of fingerless mittens. My hands got cold sitting up reading the other night, and I put a pair of those gloves on! I don't think being cold as we age is a sign of disease, although some diseases may contribute to feeling cold.
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My mom is 79 and has always preferred warmth, but her feeling cold has been getting more pronounced over the last 10 years. If she had her way, the heat would be jacked up to 30 C (86 F) all the time. Meanwhile I'm starting to go through menopausal hot flashes! Good times, lol.

We've sort of made a compromise where the thermostat is set to 25 (77) (down at night, though; I'd melt otherwise). I wear a tank top and shorts around the apartment and she wears a sweater and curls up in a fuzzy blanket.

Speaking as a Canadian: polar fleece. You can get just about anything made from it now and it's not all just thick snow gear anymore. There are thin polar fleece leggings my mom loves, that she wears under her regular pants 3 seasons of the year.
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Very normal. As we age our skin thins causing us to get cold easily. Get her a heated throw to place over her when she is sitting down. Is warming the air out of the question?
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