5 Winter Safety Tips for Seniors
December 22, 2020 | Healthy Aging
‘Tis the season of colder temperatures! And whether you love the winter months or not, it’s important to stay safe and prepared for various weather conditions. For older adults, colder weather can cause an increase in health problems such as hypothermia, falls due to slippery conditions, seasonal depression and more. To stay safe and healthy this winter, we encourage you to check out our winter safety tips for seniors:
1. Dress for the weather
In colder climates, it’s important to dress appropriately. When participating in outdoor activities, wear layers, a tightly woven (preferably wind-resistant) coat, hats, mittens, a scarf and waterproof boots. If parts of your body are left uncovered and you choose to not follow cold weather safety precautions, you may be susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia. Frostbite occurs when extremely cold temperatures cause damage to the skin that can extend to the bone. Warning signs include white, ashy or grayish-yellow skin with a waxy texture and numbness.
Hypothermia occurs when you’re in the cold for an extended amount of time and there is a major drop in your body temperature. Warning signs include cold skin that may be pale or ashy. You may also feel tired, confused, weak or sleepy, sleepy or experience slowed breathing. If you are feeling any of these symptoms, go inside immediately.
2. Manage seasonal depression
As the days grow shorter and there is less sun exposure, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) becomes more common. Take charge of your mental health by engaging in a mild to moderate activity, scheduling “wind-down” time for yourself, or video chatting with a loved one. If you find yourself having trouble coping with your seasonal depression, talk to your primary care provider or mental health counselor. They may have other winter safety tips for seniors. If you are an Iora Primary Care patient, ask your primary care provider or Health Coach about our mental health services.
3. Eat a well-balanced diet
With colder temperatures and shortened daylight, it’s difficult to get outside and soak in the sun’s rays. To support your bone health and make up for the lack of vitamin D, it’s important to add nutrient-rich foods into your diet. Here are several foods that are that you can incorporate:
- Almonds, Brazil nuts, and sunflower seeds
- Dairy products, such as milk, cheese and yogurt
- Green leafy vegetables
- Salmon and sardines
- Egg yolks
- Fortified cereals
- Fortified milk
- Tuna, salmon, and mackerel
If you have any questions about maintaining a well-balanced diet, your primary care provider can help you create a meal plan that works for you. He or she may suggest you take a multivitamin.
4. Winterize your home
Although staying at home is one of the safest places to be during the winter months, there is no guarantee of safety. Thankfully the CDC has guidelines on how to prepare your home for winter. The CDC suggests that you:
- Install weather stripping, insulation, and storm windows.
- Insulate water lines that run along exterior walls.
- Clean out gutters and repair roof leaks.
- Have your heating system serviced professionally to make sure that it is clean, working properly, and ventilated to the outside.
- Inspect and clean fireplaces and chimneys.
- Have a safe alternative heating source and alternate fuels available.
5. Stay safe on the road
Road conditions may not be optimal this winter. That is why you must be prepared and winterize your vehicle. Check and service the antifreeze, tires, windshield wipers and radiator. If you choose to drive in bad weather, make sure you have a full tank and remember to carry a charged cell phone with you in the case of an emergency. You should also stock your car with emergency supplies like a first aid kit, blanket, jumper cables, windshield scraper and a flashlight. Try your best to stay off the roads when it snows or if the roads are icy.
Now that you know the best winter safety tips for seniors, you’re ready for winter. Always remember to dress for the weather, take time for your mental health, incorporate nutrient-rich foods into your diet, and winterize your home and car. When you can, try and stay indoors to avoid the cold. However, try to get your outdoor walks in when the weather permits.
At Iora, we want to make sure you are prepared for anything this winter throws at you. We hope you follow our winter safety tips so you can enjoy the winter season to the fullest.