If your senior is parent is like my dad was, it can be a challenge for them to stay comfortable in their own home. He was always too cold in the winter and too warm in the summer. What home temperature is safe for older adults?
At home, a safe temperature range for the elderly is room temperature, which is between 65 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit. Watch the thermostat to ensure it never drops below 65 nor goes over 78 degrees.
Many times, an older person will keep their home too hot during the summer months and too cold during the winter months because they re trying to save on their energy bills. This is problematic because elderly bodies face unique challenges.
If the room temperature is too hot, seniors can become overheated and experience health problems, such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke. If the room temperature is too cold, seniors can run the risk of hypothermia and also experience health concerns. Additionally, low temperatures can increase a senior’s risk of falling.
In today’s article, we’ll talk further about the appropriate indoor temperature for seniors, including what’s too cold and too hot for them. By the time you’re done reading, you or your family members will know exactly how to adjust the thermostat in your senior parent’s home.
Table of Contents
What Is A Good Room Temperature For Seniors?
Room temperature simply refers to the temperature of a room that’s comfortable for the average person.
For younger people, this generally boils down to personal preference. But elderly people often “run cold,” as Dad would say and older people are at a higher risk for health problems when it comes to fluctuating indoor temperatures.
In an ideal home temperature environment, you should not need to bundle up in warm clothing or wear shorts, tank tops, or other hot-weather garb.
However, as people age, their body temperatures tend to drop a bit. This means that elderly people should take care to keep their home at a comfortable temperature, especially during the colder months.
There are a other few things to keep in mind when trying to maintain a safe room temperature for an elderly person. For one, they should always drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.
Additionally, they should avoid spending too much time in cold air or drafty areas, and should dress in layers to help regulate their body temperature.
To make it easier for your senior loved one to maintain the correct home temperature, we recommend getting a programmable thermostat. These devices can either be one that is programmed manually or one that is regulated in conjunction with a Smart Home system, like this ecobee smart thermostat.
Best Room Temperature For Seniors – Fahrenheit
Ideally, the best room temperature for seniors in cold weather is somewhere around 65 degrees Fahrenheit. This will provide enough warmth without being too hot or too cold.
Between 65 and 68 degrees, the room would feel cool, but shouldn’t be too cold. At 78 degrees, the room is warm, but not sweltering hot.
If the home is colder than 65 degrees, you can use space heaters to help keep your elderly parents comfortable.
Best Room Temperature For The Elderly – Celsius
Not everybody uses Fahrenheit temperatures (in fact, most of the world goes by Celsius temps). In that case, then the ideal temperature range for the elderly should be 18 to 25 degrees.
At 18 degrees Celsius, the room is comfortable enough to keep them warm. At 25C, it’s definitely a warm room, but not so hot that it could cause health problems.
Cold Weather – What Is The Ideal Room Temperature In The Winter?
Have you ever had your senior parent or loved one complain about the cold even when it’s not all that chilly out?
As a person ages, their cold sensitivity increases. The reason is that the fat below the skin that normally acts as an insulator thins with age. Thus, a senior will feel colder even if the conditions necessarily aren’t.
Keeping that in mind, when the winter arrives, as an adult child or caretaker, you want to go above and beyond to ensure your senior parent or loved one is comfortable.
The highest temperature range in a senior’s home at any time of the year should be 78 degrees. The winter temperature in their home should be 68 degrees at the lowest.
Keep in mind that the best room temperature in cold weather may vary depending on the person’s age, weight, and health condition. For example, a person with heart disease should keep their home cooler than someone who is healthy.
Also be sure to check around the house for sources of drafts such as an old window or door and a refrigerator or freezer. Cold temperatures can be dangerous for a senior. According to a 2014 report in the journal Age and Ageing, in a cold room temperature environment, a senior can lose strength in their major muscles in just 45 minutes.
The quadriceps especially are affected, limiting the senior’s ability to stand. Even if they can stably get up on their feet, they can struggle to walk. This makes falls more likely, which could result in a doctor’s trip or even hospitalization.
In chillier environments, such as rooms that are colder than 65 degrees, the elderly can even suffer from hypothermia.
You might have assumed that hypothermia only happens in arctic conditions like a blizzard or being stuck in an avalanche, but no. Seniors struggle to retain body heat, so they’re a lot likelier to develop hypothermia in a cold room.
As a senior’s body temperature begins to plummet, their chances of having a heart attack, permanent liver damage, and kidney problems go up.
If you’re worried about expensive heating bills just to keep your senior parent or loved one warm, then here’s what we recommend: for every room in the house that you’re not using, close the doors. Shut the vents as well.
In addition to keeping the home at a safe temperature, you can also take other precautions to help keep your loved ones safe during the winter.
Make sure they have a working smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector, and install sturdy handrails on stairs. You can also clear walkways and driveways of snow and ice, and have them keep an emergency kit stocked with food, water, and first-aid supplies.
Hot Weather – What Room Temperature Is Too Hot For Seniors?
As we’ve established, the max temperature that’s safe for seniors is 78 degrees. What if your senior parent or loved one has dementia and pushes the thermostat up or perhaps your air conditioner breaks, so the house is hotter than usual?
Any temperature over 78 degrees can be too hot for seniors. Just as the elderly cannot handle mildly cold temperatures, the same is true of mildly warm temperatures.
Medical conditions can interrupt how a senior’s body responds to the heat. Some medications even limit how the body sweats or its ability to regulate its own temperature.
Possible dangers of overheating can include heat stress and heatstroke.
With heat stress, they may begin sweating and display flushed, dry skin. Their pulse can change, either slowing and weakening or increasing rapidly.
Your senior may have strange behavior too. They can act agitated or confused, and they may stagger as well. In some cases, they will faint.
The best way to determine if your senior parent or loved one is experiencing heat stress is to take their temperature. Once their body temperature soars past 104 degrees, they assuredly have heat stress.
With such a high internal temperature, your senior is also at risk of heatstroke. They could have a hard time breathing. Feelings of confusion can escalate, and they can even have a seizure.
If your senior parent or loved one is only dealing with heat stress, then you can treat them at home. Move them to a cooler environment and apply water on their skin with a sponge, washcloth, or cold compress.
Rehydrate them by encouraging them to drink water. They should also lie down when not sipping on water and elevate their feet.
However, should your senior have heatstroke, rather than heat stress, do not treat them at home. Call your emergency number and have an ambulance sent out immediately. Heatstroke can be fatal!
What Temperature Is Best For Sleeping?
If you live with your senior parent or loved one, then we’re sure we don’t have to tell you that elderly individuals often do not sleep well.
At their age, their bodies don’t produce as much growth hormone. This disrupts the duration of deep sleep or slow-wave sleep, which is the portion of the sleep cycle that helps you feel rested.
The less growth hormone the body makes, the less melatonin, as well. This breaks up a person’s sleep-wake cycle.
Further, medical conditions such as restless leg syndrome, diabetes, dementia, sleep apnea, and even chronic pain can keep a senior awake at night.
Insomnia can make a senior tired and disoriented, however, increasing their risk of slipping and falling. In addition, a 2006 publication of Behavioral Sleep Medicine connected insomnia in seniors with an elevated risk of depression.
Clearly, you want your older adult to get a good night’s sleep and that requires you to set their bedroom temperature between 60 and 67 degrees.
Although those temperatures are a little too cold for a senior to be exposed to during their waking hours, cool bedroom temperatures at night can facilitate more restful sleep.
Here are some more tips for helping your senior sleep through the night.
- Have them take a warm bath about an hour before they sleep. Their body temperature will drop after they exit the tub, which can make them sleepier.
- Have a cutoff time for fluids consumption so your senior doesn’t have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
- Create a sleep routine for your parent and stick to it every night, even on the weekends. The senior should wake up at the same time each day, as well.
- Try to have them avoid naps unless they absolutely can’t help it. Napping in the middle of the day can make it harder to fall asleep that night.
- Make the bedroom a comfortable place to sleep. Use blackout curtains to keep outside lights from entering the room.
- Ask them to limit or entirely stop using computers, phones, tablets and other devices at least an hour before bed.
- Set the thermostat to the above-mentioned range.
- Consider soundproofing the room so no loud sounds wake up your senior.
Seniors are a lot more susceptible to hot and cold temperatures than the average person due to bodily changes that happen with age as well as medical conditions and certain medications. If you keep their ambient room temperature between 65 and 78 degrees, older adults should be comfortable and safe.