February 25, 2020

The winter months can make it challenging to stay healthy. When the weather is frigid, we spend more time indoors, which can make us more vulnerable to dehydration, dry skin, and illnesses like colds or the flu.

Luckily, these problems don’t have to be part of life during the winter. Here are some ways to stay hydrated and healthy throughout the cold weather months:

Hydrate your body with plenty of fluids

As we age, we tend to have a reduced sense of thirst. Older adults also have less total water in their bodies than younger adults. As a result, dehydration is a common senior health risk, and it can be even more dangerous in the winter than in the summer. Without the outdoor heat to remind us to drink up, we often don’t get enough fluids to keep us healthy. During the winter, it’s important to watch for the early signs of dehydration, like headaches and fatigue. Symptoms like dizziness, muscle cramps, and migraines can occur as dehydration progresses.

Here are a few quick tips to help you drink more water in the winter:

  • Plan to drink six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. Setting a goal will help you stay on track!
  • Eat foods with high water content. Fruits and veggies like cucumbers, oranges, grapefruit, lettuce, and tomatoes are great choices.
  • Keep water within reach. Get a reusable water bottle and refill it throughout the day.
  • Try drinks other than water. Plain, cold water isn’t always appealing in the winter. Warm tea, sparkling water, or fruit juice may fit your tastes better while quenching your thirst.

Moisturize to soothe and protect skin

Cold winter weather can be harsh on skin, especially around the neck, face, and hands. The skin in these areas is much thinner than other parts of the body, making it more sensitive to the dry, cold winter air. To soothe dry, itchy, irritated skin, use a good quality lotion or moisturizer, and reapply often.

If you have very dry, cracked hands, try lathering up with a thick hand cream right before bed. Then, wear gloves (or even socks) over your hands to lock in the moisture overnight. You’ll wake up with soft, moisturized skin!

Lastly, keep in mind that sunscreen is not just for summer. Choose a moisturizer that contains a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 to protect your face, neck, and hands from harmful UV rays that reflect from snow or ice during the winter. Don’t forget to protect your lips with a lip balm with SPF 15 or higher.

Humidify the areas where you spend the most time

Winter air has very low humidity, which can irritate your lips, eyes, throat, sinuses, and nasal passages. Indoor heating can dry out the air even further, which is why dry skin, nosebleeds, and sinus infections are so common in the winter. Using a humidifier will add moisture to the air and prevent many of the health issues experienced in the winter months. Look for a humidifier that is easy to clean and refill. Keep it running in the rooms you spend the most time in, especially your bedroom.

Follow these senior health tips to keep your body and skin hydrated, and remember, spring is right around the corner!