Assault on the Elderly

Assault on the Elderly

WendyNC suggested wearing a hoodie to bed on extremely cold nights, to help keep head and shoulders warm. It turns out the hoodie is a perfect nightcap! And there is an unexpected bonus. Getting up in the night to use the washroom, the hoodie retains body heat during the brief excursion, preventing the familiar sudden chill. Hoodies will be on my Christmas list next year! Thank you Wendy, such a simple solution that I did not think of myself.

I like to live in a coolish environment, 17-20C is great, depending on the humidity. Having said that, I wonder if this article, Turn down heat to reduce obesity risk, scientists propose, by the CBC (I am ashamed to be a Canadian when I see what I feel is an assault on Canada’s elderly) presages a coming wave of harshness towards the elderly. I say this because in the nineties I noticed ads were beginning to use contempt, for those less fortunate, to sell products. Our culture has been getting meaner and meaner as more and more people fall between the cracks; as the wealth accumulates at the top and hardship accumulates at the bottom of our economic scale. So I wonder if this offensive media portrayal of a scientific study is more about introducing intolerance for the elderly, and to the suffering of the elderly, as the “baby boomer” age cohort approaches retirement and increased need. I believe the CBC, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, know what they are doing. That they are well aware of the impact such an image, and their chosen article references, will ultimately have on casual readers, which is probably most readers.

The image for this article about weight loss and room temperature, shows an elderly woman, wrapped in a blanket, at her thermostat, cheerfully it seems, turning down the heat. Most elderly do not need to lose weight, or if they do the issue is more about decreased mobility than it is about living in a warm home. The elderly do not need to feel cold for a few hours every day, nor do they need to turn down their thermostats and sit around wearing blankets. The elderly have little, perhaps nothing, to do with turning down thermostats, and “adjusting to the cold”, as a means weight loss.

The CBC has chosen to target the elderly, blatantly through image presentation, and more subtly in “calling out” the elderly for needing warmer temperatures when confined to, and kept relatively immobile in institutions. “…hospitals and long-term care homes often set the thermostat relatively high during winter“.

CBC decided not to include this part of the article they were quoting, “Epidemiological studies indeed indicate associations between periods of cold weather and mortality from CVD, pulmonary disease, or cancer. Cold spells affect the elderly who, apart from biological aging effects on thermoregulation, show a deterioration of thermal responses. As a result they become more vulnerable during cold spells and heatwaves”.

More appropriate images would be of younger overweight people sitting in front of screens, working at jobs where they spend long hours sitting at desks, wearing fashionable but inappropriate light clothing, etc.

CBC, if they are so interested in seniors and obesity, could have quoted these articles:

“Glass, Rasmussen, and Schwartz (2006) did investigate whether neighborhood psychosocial hazards, defined as “stable and visible features of neighborhood environments that give rise to a heightened state of vigilance, alarm, or fear in residents” (p. 4), independent of individual risk factors, were associated with the increased odds of obesity in older adults.” Source: Glass, T., Rasmussen, M., & Schwartz, B. (2006). Neighborhoods and obesity in older adults: The Baltimore memory study. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 31(6), 455-463. Retrieved November 12, 2008 from: www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.

“Musculoskeletal pain is common among older people and is associated with impaired balance and mobility limitations.”
Source: Lihavainen K, Sipilä S, Rantanen T, Sihvonen S, Sulkava R, Hartikainen S. Contribution of musculoskeletal pain to postural balance in community-dwelling people aged 75 years and older. J. Gerontol. A Biol. Sci. Med. Sci. 2010; 65 (9): 990–6.

Many seniors are being hit painfully hard in Canada by rising heating costs. The CBC is not doing seniors, or Canadians of any age, any favours by implying that being cold is for their own good.

It is sunny and cold out there, and cool and comfortable in here. We are hovering at 19C in the warmest part of the room, cooler as you move from the source of heat. Mist is curled up near the heater, snoring peacefully. I have spent my two consecutive hours standing, and puttering, which I try to do every day. I am also up and on my feet every 30 minutes, to keep the blood moving. It is still cold enough that my fingers are stiff and a little sore as I type; and I am still wearing my toque.

Still feeling tickled about the hoodie solution, suggested by Wendy. The thought of a comfy night’s sleep is, well, comfy!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-25°C
Date: 8:00 AM EST Thursday 23 January 2014
Condition: Cloudy
Pressure: 102.3 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: -24.5°C
Dewpoint: -27.2°C
Humidity: 79%
Wind: NNW 8 km/h
Wind Chill: -32

Quote

“There are sadistic scientists who hurry to hunt down errors instead of establishing the truth.”
Marie Curie
1867 – 1934

12 Comments
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Bex

Even with out heat turned down at night, I am always too hot in bed! And it has nothing to do with Paul because we have separate sleeping quarters. As it is, I will awaken in the night and just from sleeping my hair will be all wet from my body heat. So no hoodies for me, but what a great idea for those of you who need more warmth at night!

Steve-Paul

There’s been a lot of good programming on TVO lately. Been watching it all week in fact. Roughly analogous to PBS. Do you not get a PBS outlet there?

Joan Lansberry

This particular ‘news item’ was mentioned on the radio this morning. It sounded goofy even then. Thanks for speaking out! I sure don’t do well when I feel cold. (Which owing to my desert summer ‘thinned’ blood, is probably when you’re just feeling ‘comfy’.) Layers are a beautiful thing.

WendyNC

What an odd article. It seems to conflate several unrelated things. As one who turns down her thermostat in winter and up in summer (and we have lots of summer here!), I can willingly sacrifice a little from my ideal comfort zone for the sake of the environment. However, what does it have to do with the elderly, who are so much more vulnerable?

Glad the hoodie idea worked for you. It sure did for me the night the bedroom got down to 49F (between 9C and 10C).

Sandy B

I only saw the headline and never thought about it the perspective of an elderly person. I agree with you completely.

Love the idea of the hoodie, BTW. I’m going to try that myself.

Tom McCubbin

The well-being of the elderly is a great indicator of how successful a government is. That said, I don’t trust the US government one bit.