While winter has been known and understood by seniors to be a challenging time, they can benefit more by facing its challenges head-on with the following winter safety tips. Do the right thing, and you’ll emerge at the other end of the season healthier and feeling much better.
1. Avoid exposure to the cold
The cold temperatures pose a special kind of threat to vulnerable people, such as very young children and seniors. This is why staying warm is the most important and most urgent imperative for seniors. Indoors, wear appropriate clothing: several layers of tightly knit clothes would be perfect, as well as wooly socks and gloves and neck scarves. Heat escapes our body through the palms, ears, feet, head and neck, so never forget to keep these special body parts amply covered and insulated. However, make sure you avoid wearing too much tight-fitting clothes that could compromise your body’s blood circulation. You need good circulation, especially during the cold months.
2. Ensure that your winter appliances are in good condition
Winter cold is damaging to anyone’s health, and it is especially dangerous to seniors. If a heater breaks down for even a few days, the consequences could be dangerous, and even tragic. Before the cold weather attacks in full force, do a thorough check of all cold-weather appliances such as stoves and heaters. Also, consider having a few small space heaters set aside in case the house’s main heating system experiences problems.
3. Get the all-important flu shot
Winter is the season of not only cold weather, but the flu. Make sure you pay your doctor a visit. A complete health checkup, topped with a flu shot, could offer a significant level of protection especially for older adults. There’s also a vaccine called Pneumovax, which could also provide protection from pneumonia- so ask your doctor about whether or not its right for you or your senior loved one.
4. Use a medical alert system
Ice and winter conditions mean that more accidents are likely to happen in your home, and many emergencies such as failing heating systems or electricity can happen, requiring a senior to get quick help. A medical alert system consists of a base unit and a button worn around the neck or wrist, and can provide seniors a way to contact emergency services, family members, or home repair professionals immediately. An elderly individual need only press the button they’re wearing, and the button communicates with the base unit, contacting a team of emergency responders who can connect the senior to someone that can help them.
5. Watch what you eat and drink
Just because its easier when you’re relegated to the indoors, doesn’t mean you can change your diet completely to processed high sodium prepared foods. Actually, the cold weather means that your body needs even more nutrition and vitamins to keep it functioning at top physical condition.
Fruits and vegetables are important, and especially colorful foods (they contain essential anti-oxidants) so make sure the fridge is stocked with produce. Nuts (walnuts, almonds, cashews, pistachios) are great stress busters, and contain important protein. Another important point to remember is to drink water, even though the cold weather may discourage us from doing so. Even if you don’t seem to be thirsty, try to drink at least five glasses of water a day to stay hydrated.