Cold weather and senior health
While it has often been described as the most wonderful time of the year, winter weather can also pose many health risks to seniors. Here are a few tips to make sure you stay warm and safe well through the spring thaw:
Dress in layers
Hypothermia and frostbite are both very real concerns if you enjoy walking in a winter wonderland. Any time you leave your house, make sure you are dressed appropriately. Take especially good care of your extremities – thick socks, waterproof boots and warm gloves are a must for warding off frostbite. If you are planning a winter activity like skiing or even just shoveling your driveway, make sure you can remove layers as your body warms up so you don't overheat.
Watch for ice
During the winter, slipping and falling on icy steps or sidewalks is an all-too-common occurrence for those of all ages. Unfortunately, these falls can be especially dangerous for seniors. To prevent yourself from taking a tumble, keep a sharp eye out for any icy patches. Also, prepare yourself with sturdy shoes that have good traction and take them off as soon as you get in your house so you don't track ice and water into your home. If you have a cane, make sure the tip is in good condition to help with traction.
The dry winter air is a quick ticket to cracked skin and chapped lips. Keep your lips, face and hands moisturized at all times to prevent cracking, especially if you are outside in chilly winds. Pick a lotion that is on the thicker side to better protect your skin and look for one with SPF protection of at least 30. Remember: Just because the summer is through doesn't mean the sun can't do damage to your skin.
Winter weather is unpredictable, so make sure you are ready for whatever Mother Nature throws at you. Keep an eye on weather forecasts so you can give yourself plenty of time to prepare for a blizzard or an ice storm. These storms have a tendency to knock out power, so make sure you have plenty of non-perishable foods stocked up along with flashlights, extra batteries and plenty of drinking water.
While you may have fewer visitors in the wintertime, make sure you have a friend or family member check in with you daily.