Common Illnesses That Affect Seniors During the Cold Weather Months

Now that fall is in full swing and winter is quickly approaching, the outdoor temperatures have started to plummet. Due to this fact, we must be more aware of the health of our older loved ones. Senior Woman With Colds

As people age, the body experiences a higher degree of sensitivity to the cold temperatures that occur during the fall and winter months. The main culprit is a decrease that occurs in the metabolic rate of the body.

When this happens, the body lacks the ability to generate enough heat within itself to retain a normal temperature.

Due to the decreased ability to withstand the colder temperatures, the elderly are more susceptible to certain illnesses during the cold weather months.

The Common Cold

During the cold months, one of the most common illnesses that occur is the common cold. While often handled well by children, teenagers, and young adults, seniors may experience many complications if they catch a cold.

Symptoms include the possibility of a sore throat, the onset of a fever, increased mucus production, cough, mild aches and pains in the body, and a general feeling of malaise.

Older adults and those that have weak immune systems may experience severe complications when they suffer from a common cold. These include – but are not limited to – the following:

  • Breathing Complications
  • Secondary Infections, Such as Sinusitis
  • Strep Throat
  • The Development of Bronchitis
  • The Onset of Pneumonia

The Flu

The cold weather months mark the beginning of more than just the holiday season; it also marks the start of flu season.

The flu usually has the same types of symptoms of the common cold, but those symptoms are often more severe and could result in devastation to the individual that experiences them – especially seniors over the age of 65.

Hospitalization – sometimes leading to complications and even death if not resolved – are common among the elderly who contract the flu. In fact, 90% of all of the deaths that happened from the flu in the years of 2017 and 2018 happened to seniors who were 65 and older.

Complications of the flu include dehydration, sinus infections, bronchitis, pneumonia, and even heart failure.


The next common cold weather illness that negatively impacts seniors is hypothermia. Because of a decreased ability to sense temperature drops, impaired mobility, less fat on the body, and other issues, seniors are more susceptible to the development of hypothermia.

This condition results from the body temperature falling below 95 degrees. The symptoms include shivering, skin discoloration, mental confusion, coordination issues, breathing issues, weakness, and excessive fatigue.

It could cause a heart attack, problems with the kidneys, damage to the liver, and be potentially life-threatening.

Does Your Older Loved One Need Help?

Keeping an older loved one warm and well during the cold weather months may prove to be challenging; however, it does not have to be done alone.

Perhaps your loved one would benefit from assisted living placement. There are both temporary and permanent assisted living facilities that offer a large array of amenities for your loved one.

If you are interested in learning more, we here at Beacon Senior Advisors can help you. Simply contact us today by calling: 973-713-0096

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