Winter holds the joys of holidays and first snowfalls but, simultaneously, the winter blues and flu season. If only we could avoid the second half of that spectrum and remain healthy, vibrant, and cheery in the colder months.
Below are six tips for staying physically, emotionally, and mentally well this winter. Older adults can—and should—thrive as temperatures drop with these guidelines in hand.
Layer Up Against The Cold
Increased clothing layers are a must as temperatures decrease and approach dangerous lows. As we age, we experience lower internal body temperatures, something to be especially mindful of when going outdoors. Be sure to limit time out in the cold to avoid hypothermia.
When you must venture outside, thicker clothing, thermal socks, coats, scarves, gloves, and earmuffs are winter-weather essentials. Remember, you can always shed layers, so it’s better to be overly prepared for freezing temperatures.
Indoors, be sure to set furnace thermostats to at least 68°F to 70°F and avoid drafts. Having extra blankets on hand for added warmth is also a good idea.
Remember the Benefits of Exercise
Cold winter days are great for curling up indoors, watching a movie, and enjoying a cup of hot chocolate. While it’s good to savor that kind of coziness, don’t forget to balance it out with movement. Exercising helps keep people of all ages healthy and active, and it helps boost our moods and stave off the winter doldrums.
If you are without access to exercise facilities, a simple stroll down the hallway can help keep you moving and from feeling isolated during the winter. It’s also an excellent way to meet new faces and make friends. When the weather allows, walking outdoors is a great option, but remember to wear proper footwear to avoid slipping.
Eat Colorful Foods
Energy-dense comfort foods that warm us inside and out make for familiar winter cravings, but don’t forget the other food groups. Although some vegetables and fruits may not be as fresh as in the warmer months, plenty of options are still available and essential to incorporate into daily dietary choices.
One tip is to remember what your parents inevitably told you: eat a variety of colorful foods. Consuming colorful produce with vitamins, minerals, and fiber helps seniors take care of their bodies and minds.
Invite Loved Ones to Visit
Staying in touch with loved ones and inviting them to your home are helpful ways to avoid the detrimental health effects of loneliness. Older adults often find it challenging to remain in contact with friends, so staying connected to those closest to you is crucial.
Remember that icy roads or winter storms could cause someone to postpone a planned visit, and rescheduling may be necessary. If in-person visits aren’t an option due to poor weather conditions, phone calls and video conferencing are alternative ways to spend quality time with family and friends.
Engage in Activities
Just as it’s important to socialize with family and friends, enjoying the people within your living community is key to winter wellness. Most facilities offer various planned activities, including games, visiting performers, and special treats. Seniors can attend events that intrigue them as a way to stay occupied and create friendships. Many residents learn new skills or discover new hobbies.
Even unplanned activities can be fun. Winter pastimes can include knitting, puzzles, word searches, and reading. When enjoyed with people outside of their typical circle of friends, the likely outcome is a positive mood and increased physical activity.
Soak up the Sun
As the length of daily sunshine in the winter is shorter, our last tip is for seniors is to soak it up the sun whenever it’s available. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects many people during the winter months. Luckily, vitamin D from natural light and certain foods helps alleviate symptoms such as sadness, fatigue, and hopelessness.
Welcome the sunshine through your blinds. Eat a meal or sip tea by a window. The sun is out and should be enjoyed year-round, especially as a means to kick the winter blues.