January 17, 2019
Winter is here, bringing with it snow, ice, and frigid temperatures. This time of year can be particularly challenging for older adults, who are more vulnerable to illness and injuries associated with the harsh winter conditions. Stay safe and healthy this winter season with our helpful tips:
Avoid spreading germs
Cold and flu viruses circulate more frequently in the cold winter months. And unfortunately, cold and flu season can be downright dangerous for older adults. As we grow older, our immune system becomes slower to respond, making us more susceptible to health complications caused by the flu. One of the most important ways to avoid getting sick and spreading germs during cold and flu season is by keeping your hands clean. Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water and scrub for at least 20 seconds. Talk to your doctor about getting a flu vaccine to help protect against the flu.
With age, our bodies have more trouble regulating temperature. In the colder months, this raises the risk of hypothermia. To stay warm this winter, be sure the thermostat in your home is set to 68 degrees or higher, and dress warmly on cold days, even if you aren’t going outdoors. If you do head outside, dress in layers and make sure to wear a hat, coat, gloves, and a scarf to protect against frostbite.
Eat healthy, balanced meals
During the colder months, it can be easy to fall into the habit of eating unhealthy, “comfort” foods. Make sure you are still eating a well-balanced diet to maintain good health. There are plenty of delicious fruits and vegetables that are in season in the winter, including cranberries, citrus fruits, broccoli, carrots, pears, sweet potatoes, and squash.
Snowy and icy conditions can make parking lots, driveways, sidewalks, and other walking surfaces hazardous. To avoid the risk of fall or injury when walking on slippery surfaces, wear boots or shoes with good traction and non-skid soles. Be mindful of where you step and watch out for black ice, which can be hard to spot. Once you come indoors, remove your shoes at the door to avoid tracking slippery snow on the floor.
Due to frigid temperatures and traveling conditions, most of us tend to stay at home more during the cold winter months, which can lead to loneliness, social isolation, and even seasonal depression. To help fight the “winter blues,” it’s important to remain both physically and mentally active during the winter months, even when you’re stuck indoors. Keep in touch with friends and family with regular visits and phone calls. Set aside time to meet for coffee or run errands together. If you find yourself feeling lonely during the winter season, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. You might consider the benefits of moving to a retirement community, where you will have opportunities to connect with other retirees and make new friends every day.