Did you know that this season the flu shot is only about 10% effective? Or that other health problems, such as asthma, sore throat and cold sores, are triggered or worsened by cold weather?
Cold temperatures and dangerous traveling conditions often keep people indoors during the winter months. This increases the risk of health problems, especially for older adults. Studies have found that we are exposed to more germs when we are inside – and they spread quickly.
In the warmer months, even just a short walk in fresh air can boost your immune system. However, when we are forced to spend more time indoors due to snow, ice, and freezing temperatures, the smaller space of our homes and being in close proximity to others makes it easy for us to catch illnesses. Luckily, there are many ways for you to fight off illnesses and stay safe indoors and outdoors while leading an active and healthy life this winter. Check out our 4 Winter Health Tips for Seniors:
1. Eat Healthily
As we age, our immune system weakens. While this is a natural part of life, having a strong diet helps to fuel us and fight off sickness and is essential to a healthy lifestyle. Some people experience a loss of appetite with age but eating a healthy number of calories and nutrients can help maintain healthy organs, muscles, and bones.
Even though certain fruits may be out of season and cold weather keeps us from gardening, seniors should be sure to keep fruits and vegetables in their diets all year long. For extra help, daily vitamins can help make sure you’re getting the daily recommended servings of the nutrients and minerals that you need.
2. Exercise Often – Even Outdoors
It can be hard for any group to find the motivation to exercise in the winter. For seniors, the benefits of an active lifestyle are immense, from helping to ward off heart disease to increase mobility. Indoor exercises are a great way to stay fit even when the weather stops you from leaving your house. Treadmills, weights and other exercise equipment can help you stay on course with your exercise regimen.
Of course, even when it is chilly out, getting fresh air, and vitamin D are crucial to our health. With layered clothing, sunscreen and plenty of water, exercising outside in the winter can be a fun way to get out of the house and change up your routine. Be sure conditions are safe and to clear any fitness routines with your doctor.
It is not just physical health that needs some extra attention when it gets cold out, but mental health as well. For seniors, isolation can already be a major obstacle, but during the winter when people tend to stay home more, it can play an even bigger role in your day-to-day life. To help fight off seasonal depression, it is good to see loved ones, spend some time outdoors, and even run errands. If weather conditions prevent travel, making phone calls to friends and family is a good way to stay in touch. If you’d like to be surrounded by other retirees, a retirement community that encourages independent living is a great fit for you. If feelings of loneliness start to take a toll on you, remember to reach out and ask for help.
4. Take Safety Precautions
Even the healthiest seniors can be injured because of an accident. In the wintertime, things like cold weather and storms can make daily tasks more hazardous, and it is important to be prepared for them. It is common for seniors to experience falls, so the added dangers of obstacles like black ice mean that everyone should use extra caution when walking outside. If you plan on staying home during bad weather, it is a good idea to have a prepared safety kit in your house. Flashlights, non-perishable foods and a full stock of medications can help to keep you safe and healthy during power outages.
During peak cold and flu season, it is smart to stay proactive and be prepared for illness and safety risks. Aside from these important lifestyle tips, smaller daily activities like washing your hands, disinfecting household items, and getting enough sleep can also make a difference in protecting you against germs. Seniors should take extra care when it is cold outside and consult with your doctor regarding diet, exercise, and other concerns you may have about staying healthy this winter.