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Winterly Advice

By December 19, 2014Aging in Place

December 21st marks the beginning of winter. In addition to fireside hot chocolate sipping and warm blanket snuggling, there are also dangerous weather conditions, frigid temperatures, and lack of sunlight. These conditions can make life difficult for older adults living on their own. However, there are ways to stay active and stay safe during the winter. Here are a few good ideas:

Shoes With Good Traction
The mix of ice and snow can create a very dangerous environment for older adults since they don’t have the balance and dexterity they used to have. In fact, falls are very common amongst the elderly and it’s a major leading cause of death from injury for people over the age of 65. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent slipping on the wet snow or slippery ice. One way is to buy shoes with good traction. This gives your feet a better grip on the ground and reduces your chances of taking a tumble. However, it’s not a 100% guarantee that your feet stay planted, so if the conditions are truly atrocious, the best advice is to stay indoors.

More Light
It’s no secret that you receive less light in the winter. This doesn’t seem like too much of a problem, but it is. Less light can cause a condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). It’s another way of saying “winter time blues.” However, it can lead to a much bigger problem than just feeling lethargic and unhappy for a few days. It can lead to clinical depression.

This means a senior may not take care of herself/himself, refuse to get out of bed, refuse to eat, and refuse to be social. Luckily, artificial light can be just as helpful as natural light. Studies show that it’s not enough to get a lot of bright light but to get it at the right time and that time is in the morning. If you or your senior loved one wakes up at dawn before the sun rises, try turning on all the lights or even purchasing extra white light bulbs. This can help relieve the “winter blues” and keep it from becoming clinical depression.

Stay Warm
Older adults tend to have poor circulation in their body. One symptom of poor circulation is having cold extremities such as hands and feet. Without warm blood getting to each body part, it can be dangerous for seniors to be exposed to frigid temperatures. It’s a good idea to always have the thermostat set to 65 degrees or warmer. It’s also a good idea to dress in layers. The more you have on the less heat escapes from your body. It’s important to stay warm in the winter, because a reduced body temperature can reduce your immune system and make you more susceptible to colds, the flu, and pneumonia. Watch that thermostat and make sure you’re comfortable in your own home.

Winter is a wonderful time filled with holiday cheer, warm drinks, and good food. However, there are some precautions that need to be considered, and if you do, the winter can be quite enjoyable!

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