Winter Wellness Tips for Seniors

Winter is at its peak in mid-January –that means we’ll have to endure several more weeks until the official calendar declaration of spring in mid- March. We’ve got work to do until then.  We have to keep our spirits high and our bodies well.  First step:  know what to do and make a plan to do it whether it’s for yourself or a loved one.

#1 Priority for every senior is Fall Prevention—Indoors and Outdoors!

Outdoor Hazards in winter are obvious—icy steps, sidewalks, driveways, wet floors in stores.  Best advice, don’t go it alone; wait to go until you have someone who can walk with you to avoid ice and help you maintain balance just in case.  Be sure shoes or boots are built for winter with good sturdy treads on soles. Watch entry mats in stores and offices.  They are often wet from melting snow.  By the way, let someone else do the shoveling!

Indoor injuries are just as risky but can be reduced by keeping many healthy ideas in mind. First, let’s consider your good health habits: 

  • Exercise, as simple as stretching and moving even if you’re sitting on a chair to do it, helps maintain muscle strength.  Walking is tops overall—think laps down a hall or at a mall.  Housework is aerobic—especially when vacuuming! Put on some music and dance; find a You-Tube demo on so many exercises for seniors to keep spirits up, too.
  • Pay attention to your daily meals—eat plenty of protein, fruit and veggies to help provide hydration, vitamins and minerals, fiber and nutrients your muscles and body overall needs.
  • Seasonal sadness—when winter blues put you in a rut, check to be sure you are taking your doctor-approved daily dose of D. You know it’s the sunshine vitamin—on a cold but sunny day, bundle in a blanket but sit next to a window where you can bask in its magic.  Call someone.  Ask a friend or family member to visit. Watch an upbeat movie. Think about learning to do something you never had time to do.  If depression persists, talk to your doctor! You don’t have to go it alone! Depression can lead to weakness—and falls!
  • Stay hydrated—the dryness indoors demands drinking more fluids.  Beware of coffee and teas with caffeine as they actually dehydrate.  Opt for juices, milk, and good old water.  Dehydration can cause dizziness and rapid heart rate.  It also affects the immune system. All are risks for falls.
  • Immune system problems can invite flu, respiratory and other viruses which can lead to weakness and falls.  Stay up to date with vaccines your doctor recommends.  Wash hands frequently when around others or keep hand sanitizer with you always.
  • How is your vision?  Poor vision can obviously lead to tripping and falls.
  • Stand up slowly to avoid being dizzy—especially after lying down or sitting for a length of time in your favorite recliner.  Give your circulatory system time to work!
  • Medication safety means making sure your meds are up to date, the pharmacist has taken a look at drug interactions, and that you are following directions. Ask for help if you’re not sure. Medication safety is also fall prevention!

Fall Protection Checklist is a good guide and encourages actions you may not have considered:

  • Home lighting—wall switches and lamps should be easy to reach.  Leaning too far forward can upset balance and result in a fall.  Lighting should be adequate, not too dim.  Night lights are great in the bedroom, bathroom, even kitchen or living room.
  • Store items used every day in easy to reach areas or shelves easy to reach with strain or causing imbalance.  Get a grabber!  These tools are invaluable; use in every room for dropped items as well.
  • No throw rugs but do use anti-slip bath mats in the bathroom. Do you have bars installed or a bathing chair?
  • Slippers should be comfortable but sturdy to prevent falls.
  • Raised toilets, toilet seats with moveable adjustable handlebars are so worth the investment!
  • Ask for help checking batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.

In Case of Emergency……in addition to 911

  • Tech savvy family will be glad to help select a watch or other wearable safety device in case of emergency.  Don’t underestimate the benefits!  It’s not a pride thing, it’s a wise thing to do!
  • Have handy a list of Emergency numbers to call, including your pharmacy and doctors.
  • Keep in touch with others! Ask for help when you’re not feeling right; you may simply need a ride to your doctor, Urgent Care, or an ambulance for hospital ER.  Don’t take chances!!

These tips are especially important for seniors who are living in their own homes or apartments.  Residences Senior Living knows them to be proven benefits.  Our staff is mindful of these safety tips and that, for certain, is a benefit of assisted living, no matter how independent you choose to live!  Take the tour and learn how we put tips into action!

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