Feeling Cold? It Might Be Your Brain

An up-close view of a woman wearing a puffer jacket with the hood up
Image Source/Getty Images

It’s a common complaint among older adults: No matter what you do, you’re constantly cold. But the reason isn’t just winter — your brain may be partly to blame.

The hypothalamus, an almond-sized structure deep inside the brain, regulates temperature controls and essentially serves as the body’s internal thermostat. But this thermoregulatory control can often weaken or fluctuate with age, studies have shown. A weakened fever response may be another reason for feeling chilly: More than 20 percent of adults over age 65 with serious bacterial infections don’t have fevers. This may be a sign that your body loses the ability to regulate heat as you age — and it’s why some physicians use the phrase, “Old is cold.”

Your best bet for staying warm? Stick with the tried-and-true methods: Move to a milder environment, crank up the thermostat and wear warm clothes.

To learn more about the brain’s impact on how hot or cold you feel, see the full article in Staying Sharp.

This content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide any expert, professional or specialty advice or recommendations. Readers are urged to consult with their medical providers for all questions.

Search AARP Blogs