Winter can be a challenge for everyone’s mental and physical health, but seniors especially need more support during the cold months. There are things we can do to help the seniors in our lives stay safe, healthy, and happy during these next few weeks of winter.
Physical Health and Safety
Winter can put stress on our physical health in many ways. Colder temperatures make our hearts work harder, cold and flu spread more easily, and winter weather makes it harder to travel outside the house safely.
If the seniors in your life live in an apartment, condo, or retirement home, there is probably someone on staff to clear and salt icy sidewalks, but if they live in their own home, they will likely need help clearing their porches, driveways and sidewalks. It can also be helpful for seniors to wear shoes with good traction or even traction cleats.
It’s also important for seniors to wear enough layers in cold weather. Staying warm is often a challenge for seniors and being cold can put extra strain on their heart. The best time to stock up on winter clothes is before the winter season starts, so they are ready and available as soon as the temperature drops. A good coat with layers underneath can help them to stay comfortable even after they move indoors. Hand warmers can also help senior stay comfortable while outside in winter.
Winter weather often makes it harder for seniors to get out of the house. If you live nearby to an older loved one, you might offer to pick up groceries or run errands for them. It’s good for everyone to be prepared for storms, especially if they live somewhere that regularly has snowstorms, but especially important for seniors. Non-perishable food is the best to stock, along with water, flashlights and candles, blankets, and a radio. During the winter, it’s also important that seniors get their prescriptions refilled before they run out so they always have a stock of needed medication.
Viral illnesses spread more easily during the winter when we spend more time cooped up inside. COVID-19, flu, and colds are all going around right now and can put seniors at serious risk. Socialization is important for older adults, but meeting with others in person may spread illness. Encourage your loved ones to get the flu shot and COVID vaccine if they are able to.
You can also encourage them to wear masks when they’re outside of the house and wear a mask yourself when you’re out in public or visiting them. Visiting with them over the phone or through a video call can also be a great way to stay in touch without meeting in the same space.
If your loved one does become sick, injured, or otherwise needs help with their health, a home health nurse can provide care in their own home. Home health is a great way to make sure your loved one is getting the care they need in their own home where they’re comfortable. Our own home health services offer RN’s, LPN’s, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech therapists, depending on our patient’s individual needs. Find out more on our home health page.
Staying Physically Active
Indoor exercises are a good way to stay active during winter, which can improve both physical and mental health. Taking walks in malls or taking classes in a gym or community center can be great ways to socialize while exercising. There are also many exercises that can be done right in the home. SilverSneakers is a great online resource for at-home workouts for seniors. There are many ways to get active. It’s important for your loved ones to find activities they can do comfortably and enjoy doing regularly.
Mental health is incredibly important for everyone. It’s common for people to feel down during the winter months. Socializing and staying mentally active can help with this. It can also be helpful to spend time in sunlight or use a daylight lamp.
Being able to socialize is so important for mental health and seniors are especially susceptible to feeling lonely or isolated. Meeting with others in person can be difficult in the winter, especially when viral illnesses spread more easily. Instead, talking over the phone or over a video chat can help seniors stay in touch with their friends and loved ones.
If you think your loved one is feeling isolated, you may want to talk to them about getting a caregiver. Caregivers can help with everyday tasks around the house, but they can also provide companionship. Having someone to talk, play games, or even just watch TV with can make a huge difference in a person’s quality of life. For more information about caregivers, check out our home care services.
Staying Mentally Active
There are many ways to stay mentally active. Socializing is one way that can help people stay active. Learning new hobbies and skills is another great way to stay active. Learning new things can help alleviate boredom and make people happier overall. New hobbies, books, or experiences, especially if done with friends, are great ways to keep the winter blues away. Many hobbies have online communities and free resources to learn more.
Winter presents more challenges to seniors than the warmer seasons, but there are many ways to make sure your loved one stays happy and healthy.