A Few Health Tips for Winter

Winter can be challenging for many, especially the elderly. While there are many people who do not shy away from winter weather, many find it isolating. This isolation can lead to seasonal depression.
Seasonal depression is a condition that is common, yet often overlooked. With shorter days and often cloudy or stormy weather, we all get less sunlight. Even if you can’t get outside, sit by a sunny window and make sure that you keep the blinds on your windows open during the day. Don’t isolate yourself. Just because you might not be able to get outside, that doesn’t mean stay in your apartment. Social isolation is damaging. Isolation causes loneliness and that is just not good for our health and our bodies. People who feel lonely may experience disruption in sleeping and appetite. Thus contributing to mood changes, low energy, and depression. These things can all contribute to more isolation. It is a vicious circle.
Join in with the book discussion or movie group.  If there is a choir, join in, singing is great for the soul.  Take advantage of any social activity that might be of interest.  You might find that learning a new card game opens you up to a new group of friends!
Here are a few articles if you are interested:  “Loneliness: 5 things you may not know”  CNN.com, “Loneliness is Deadly” by Jessica Olien.
On another note, here are some other general tips about staying safe and healthy during cold months.  Cold weather can pose serious health hazards. Falls and other accidents, as well as hypothermia are all more common as the temperature drops.  The key to safety is prevention.  Here are a few ideas.  Watch out for ice.  If you can, make sure you do some mild stretching, this improves circulation and limbers muscles.  Wear sensible footwear and stick to cleared sidewalks and roads.  Hold on to handrails and use a cane or walker when necessary.  Avoid going out when conditions are too severe.  Walking inside, chair exercises and gentle yoga are all good activities.  Stock up on supplies when the weather is good and/or use a local grocery delivery service.
Stay warm.  As we age, our sense of touch declines.  A diminished response to cold can put one at risk for hypothermia.  Keep your thermostat at 68 degrees.  Layer your clothing for added warmth.  Wear a hat and gloves when you go outside!  Eat a well-balanced diet and be alert for signs of hypothermia.  Symptoms include:  slurred speech, confusion, shallow breathing, unusual behavior and slow/irregular heartbeat.  Use good common sense as your guide.  Seek medical attention when needed.  And remember, spring will be here before you know it!