Wintertime can be an enjoyable season. You can sip tea by the fireplace or curl up with a good book. You can watch your grandkids build a snowman or snow fort. And, you can scour the seed catalogs that come in the mail and plan your spring and summer garden. However, winter unfortunately also presents some challenges, especially for older adults. To keep you from illness and injury this season, be sure to consider our wintertime tips to stay both safe and healthy this winter.
1. Dress Warmly
If you live in the Midwest like us, you know that the weather can turn icy cold and windy with little warning. Older adults are particularly susceptible to respiratory infections and pneumonia, and are more likely to develop complications from such infections. Avoid getting sick by making sure to bundle up, including wearing a hat and gloves. It's also a good idea to stow dry gear in your car in case you get wet in the snow or in case your car breaks down.
2. Get a Bus Pass
Public transportation takes a lot of the stress out of getting from one place to another in the winter. When you take the bus, you don't have to worry about shoveling the drive, filling up your gas tank in the ice and snow or possibly breaking down en route. You let the driver deal with the weather without the stress and worry of not being able to get out and about to run errands or partake in social activities.
3. Stay Active
You don't have to be over 60 to get the blues during the short, winter days. However, older adults are more prone to depression during this time of year. Do what you can to avoid this gloomy feeling by staying active. If you no longer work, consider volunteering at your local food pantry or community center. Or, you can get involved with one of your church programs. Most churches are eager for volunteers. If volunteering isn't your forte, consider spending time with others or working on your hobbies. There are a myriad of things you can do, from baking cookies to doing some cleaning, to selling unwanted items on eBay, to making jewelry or other craft items for friends and family or a local craft fair.
4. Eat a Healthy and Varied Diet
Too many processed foods and too many carbohydrates cannot only add weight to your frame, but can bog down your immune system. Although comfort foods can be enticing, especially on cold nights, try to fill at least half of your place fruits and vegetables and replace white rice, flour and pasta with more complex and fiber-filled whole grain varieties. If you haven't already started weaning yourself off of refined sugar products, now is a good time to start.
5. Find a Communication Buddy
Team up with a friend or someone at church as communication buddies. You can check on him or her periodically and he or she can do the same for you. Not only is it easy and comforting, but it is also fun to have a friend you can catch up with regularly and check in on what is new in their life. If you’d like, set a different friend to call each day of the week – you’ll feel better and strengthen friendships along the way!
6. Take Measures to Avoid Falls
Falls are the number one cause of injuries in those over 65. According to the Center for Disease Control, around two million seniors are treated in emergency rooms around the United States each year because of falls. To avoid being a part of this statistic, be sure to get enough exercise (weak muscles increase your chances of falling), remove obstacles like loose throw rugs and items on the stairs, and be mindful of medications that may cause dizziness - especially new prescriptions until you know how they will affect you.
Staying safe and healthy this winter doesn't have to be complicated or expensive. It just means being prepared and following a few helpful tips.