Walker Methodist: Winter Resource Edition

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile you could miss it.” Who recognizes that quote from the ‘80s movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off? If you’re like me, you marvel at how quickly time moves. Now that it’s 2017 and the hustle of the holidays are behind us, winter can seem to take its sweet time morphing into spring. I have a few recommendations for you to help you make the most of your winter as you look forward to your first robin sighting.

Safety First

Winter in the Midwest is not for the faint of heart. Older adults are often well accustomed to the season and what it can mean. Seniors face different risks during winter months than the rest of the population and safety is a higher concern.

Icy sidewalks and hefty snowfall – ice poses obvious risks for slipping and falling, but snow removal or shoveling comes with its own, too. Removing snow from sidewalks, driveways, porches, and decks requires quite a bit of manual labor if the volume is high. Carefully sweeping or shoveling a dusting of snow away might be manageable, but know your limits when it comes to handling large amounts of snow. If you can’t get assistance from friends, families, or neighbors, here are options for Snow Removal Services in the Minneapolis Area.

Storm preparations – equipping your car with an emergency kit and traveling with a mobile phone are smart considerations if you have to travel during harsh conditions. Of course staying put during times of excessive snow, wind, or storms is the best policy, but you can’t always count on that as an option. Being prepared for weather and storm-related issues means equipping your home with provisions like a storm kit that includes water, flashlights, candles, blankets, snacks, and any necessary medications or devices. You should establish a communication plan for times when the power is out – let a family member or neighbor know your status and vice versa.

Hypothermia risk – older adults are at a higher risk for hypothermia during the coldest months of the year. Be proactive if you intend to travel or be outdoors and wear layers – this includes good socks, tighter-fitting clothing, gloves, and a hat. Always wear a hat!


For Aches, Pains, Bugs, and Other Illnesses

It’s probably not a coincidence that the term common cold originated in the winter months! This time of year illness seems to be more prevalent due to a number of reasons – lack of sunshine, warmth, activity, and light are all factors. Here are proactive ways to stay healthy.

Get a flu shot – it’s not too late! Peak flu season is about here. Older adults have a higher risk of contracting viruses and other illnesses, and their bodies have a harder time handling the fight to restore health. Taking a vitamin C supplement to boost your immune system won’t hurt, either. 

Vitamin D deficiency – the sun offers more than warmth and cheer. It’s important for stimulating your skin’s production of vitamin D, which serves several important functions for your body. It promotes calcium absorption, protects your bones, and reduces inflammation. Talk to your doctor or healthcare provider about a vitamin D supplement if you’re experiencing unusual symptoms like bone pain or muscle weakness, foggy thinking, or unexplained fatigue.

Stay active – the term “winter weight” doesn’t only apply to our pets who aren’t receiving the regular benefit of exercise in the winter months! Even if you’re not concerned with gaining weight this time of year, it’s still very important to keep active and move your body. Because the cold and icy conditions make it harder to get outside for daily walks, think “inside the box” when it comes to exercising indoors. Here’s a blog on 4 Easy Indoor Exercises for Unpredictable Weather that will give you tips for working out with what items you already have on hand.


The Power of People

If you think you hibernate this time of year, you are not alone. It’s more common for isolation in the winter thanks to the crummy conditions outside. While common, it’s not always the best for people to put a hold on their social calendars because isolation in Seniors has been clearly linked to poor health outcomes.

Find reliable transportation – many Seniors do not drive, and winter makes it even more difficult for those who do. A lack of transportation can often be the biggest reason for isolation. Check with your family and network and look at public transportation as a second option to stay connected to your routines, obligations, appointments, and outings.  Ride sharing services are becoming increasingly popular options for people of all ages, consider checking these out for yourself, too.  

Try new things – if you’re one to make New Year’s Resolutions, now is the perfect time to add trying new things to your list of goals. New things could mean increasing your social participation at church, a community center, within your neighborhood, at a local school, or even at a fitness center. Committing yourself to new events and activities ahead of time means you’ll see your calendar filling up, giving you something to look forward to you all month long.

Become a social-media butterfly – snow might ruin your plans anyway. You might get sick and have to cancel. Things happen that change plans and require you to stay home, safe and resting. That doesn’t mean you have to be alone, so to speak. Social media is a great way to stay connected – though it’s not as good as old-fashioned visiting and conversation, logging into Facebook or connecting with a long-distance friend via FaceTime might bring a bit of sunshine to your otherwise gray day.


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Topics: Health & Well-Being

Shelli Bakken

Written by Shelli Bakken

Shelli is the Director of Support Services at Walker Methodist.

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