by Michele Mintzer – Community Relations
The Seattle area may not be known for an abundance of sunshine, but at least our winters are reasonably moderate. But even though Seattle residents don’t battle some of the extreme weather that other parts of the country faces, it’s still important for seniors to take some precautions when heading into the winter season. Whether you’re living in a Seattle area retirement community, or still living on your own, here are some things you’ll want to think about to ensure your health and wellbeing this winter.
Appropriate winter wear. Many seniors struggle to stay warm—even in a fairly temperate climate like we have in Seattle. If you’re planning to head outdoors, make sure you have adequate protection against the elements. Think in terms of layers as wearing several thinner layers will help you retain heat and stay comfortable. Wool and cotton fibers help to hold warmth in. Thermal underwear or tights make a great first layer for the cooler months.
Avoid snow and ice. Many of our senior residents mention to us that their balance isn’t what it used to be. Ice or snow can really make walking difficult. And falling when you’re older has serious consequences. Whenever possible, avoid walking where there is snow or ice. If you do go out in these conditions make sure you have footwear with non-slip soles. And for added comfort, try thermal socks. Keeping your feet warm helps your whole body stay warm.
Fight your leanings toward lethargy. During the winter, we all have a tendency to become lethargic and less active. Add to that the fact that holiday goodies seem to pop up everywhere (and retirement communities are no exception!) and it’s easy to see why people—including seniors—tend to put on weight in winter. Keeping physically active will help you stay warmer—and it will keep those extra pounds from accumulating. If walking is difficult or impossible for you, ask about chair-based exercises.
Keep the fluids coming. You may be tempted to focus on hot drinks during the cold times, but cool drinks are better for staying hydrated, and that’s important for your health.
Safety first. If you use a space heater, check it often to make sure it’s safely located and operating properly. Be careful with extension cords—they can be a fire danger and a tripping danger.
Layer up inside as well. Throw on a sweater and keep extra blankets and throws near you. The more energy your body expends on staying warm, the less energy it has to fight off sickness.
There are lots of things to enjoy in the winter. Make sure you’re prepared to enjoy them comfortably and safely.