Six Ways Seniors Can Stay in Good Health this Winter

Dec 20, 2021
close up of happy senior couple kissing in winter

As the weather changes, now’s a good time to prepare for staying healthy this winter. Granted, there are plenty of challenges for many seniors from the cold to isolation to colds, flu and COVID-19, there are plenty of ways seniors can maintain their health even on the coldest days. Here are tips to make winter healthy.

6 Ways to Stay in Good Health

Let in the light —

As winter approaches the days become shorter which means it’s difficult to get enough sunshine to stay healthy for two reasons. First, we need sunshine to produce Vitamin D, aka the sunshine vitamin, which is essential for healthy bones and teeth. Second, a lack of natural light can also contribute to the prevalence of seasonal affective disorder, a type of depression once called the “winter blues.” According to the Mayo Clinic article “Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD),” symptoms of SAD include feeling depressed, hopeless or guilty, trouble sleeping, low energy, difficulty concentrating, and having thoughts of suicide. Although SAD can occur during the summer too, it’s most common during the fall and winter and is thought to be connected to changes in the body’s biological clock or circadian rhythm as well in changes in levels of the chemicals serotonin and melatonin. If possible, seniors should allow as much natural light in as possible and spend time in the sun either indoors or outdoors. Another option is SAD light therapy via a special lamp that gives off white light and helps minimize the effects of SAD.

Avoid infections —

Needless to say, winter is cold and flu season so getting all the recommended vaccinations in time to boost your immunity is key to staying healthy. It is also interesting to note that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, during the winter of 2020, influenza activity was “unusually low” worldwide, which it attributes to the COVID-19 lockdown, as well as better personal hygiene, wearing masks, and practicing social distancing. Even though life is somewhat more normal now, it’s wise to remain vigilant not only about COVID-19, but about colds, flu, pneumonia, and other bacterial and viral infections. Especially when visiting or having visitors for the holidays, seniors should follow tips from the CDC detailed in their article, “Safer Ways to Celebrate the Holidays.

Be cold smart —

It can be fun and healthful to spend time outdoors in the winter, when the appropriate clothing is worn. Seniors are especially prone to hypothermia, which is when the body cools to 95 degrees or lower and loses heat faster than it can produce it. The results can be deadly so seniors should always dress for the weather in layers, and wear hats, scarves, gloves or mittens, and insulated boots. Also keep in mind that some health conditions can impact how the cold affects the body, especially diabetes, thyroid problems, and disease like arthritis that make it difficult to get clothes on. Seniors should also stay warm indoors by wearing an extra layer of clothes and keeping the thermostat set to a comfortable temperature. Find out more about senior safety in the National Institutes of Health article, “Cold Weather Safety for Older Adults.”

Beware the snow —

Winter also poses challenges for seniors with snow and ice. A big snowfall can be beautiful, but for seniors it can mean the dangers of shoveling are at hand. These include back injuries, falls, broken bones, cuts, and injuries due to heart problems. In fact, according to the WebMD article, “Shoveling Snow Injures Thousands Each Year,” “Adults over 55 were 4.25 times more likely than younger people to have heart-related symptoms while shoveling.” If possible, leave the shoveling to the professionals or neighbor kids, or at minimum use a snow blower to minimize physical strain. Also wear slip-resistant boots, head and hand gear, and stop when you are tired.

Ramp up nutrition —

When its cold many people feel compelled to eat heavier meals than they would during the heat of summer. This can lead to weight gain, especially when seniors cannot safely go outside and get exercise to counter the extra calories. To be sure of a healthy diet, check out the great resources at nutrition.gov including using the nutrition facts label for older adults, how to choose healthy meals as you get older, and smart food choices for healthy aging.

Insulate against isolation —

Staying connected during the winter can be especially difficult for seniors who become isolated thanks to the weather. But there are many ways to stay in touch and avoid the feelings of depression and loneliness associated with isolation. When safe, invite family or friends to stop over and share lunch, coffee or just time together. For those separated by distance, Zoom calls can be made from any smart phone or tablet, and we can still just call on the phone and catch up with loved ones. For more about loneliness and how to beat it, read our blog, “Senior Health: 5 Reasons Not to Ignore Loneliness.”

Residents of Ganton’s Countryside have a host of fun and safe things to do during winter to stay fit and enjoy life safely. For more information about Countryside, please call Margaret Nagel at (517) 206-5000 or download our brochure to learn about our care levels, cost, and amenities.

assisted living near me

Subscribe to our blog.

Recent Posts

Michigan Senior Living: The Complete Guide for 2022

Ready to find your forever home in Michigan? You’re in luck! Few states come close to the natural beauty, affordability and high quality of life found in Pure Michigan. No matter what type of retirement community you’re looking for, you can find it here — if you know...

What the Best Michigan Memory Care Residences Have to Offer

For seniors with Alzheimer’s and dementia, memory loss can be jarring, lonely and even anger-inducing. They may be unable to remember basic facts, like what year it is, their location or a loved one’s name, all of which can contribute to feelings of a lost identity....

Top Qualities of the Best Retirement Communities in Michigan

Entering your golden years can be an exhilarating adventure, or it can be a stressful, uncertain transition. For most people, the difference comes down to whether or not they feel secure and supported in their new phase of life. Finding a retirement community that...

Assisted Living in Michigan: Everything You Need to Know

What happens when seniors can no longer live comfortably at home? Some people think that being unable to live alone means that a senior should enter nursing care, but that’s not necessarily true. The reality is that there are several living options in between total...

Memory Care Services in Jackson, MI.

Does your loved one struggle with serious memory loss? Losing memory and other cognitive functions is scary — it can feel like losing yourself. People who suffer from dementia and related conditions can become withdrawn and isolated, depressed or even angry. These...

Your Options for Assisted Living in Jackson, MI

How do you want to age? It’s a simple question, but an important one. Everyone who is lucky enough to live a long life will interact with old age, and preparing for that reality can make the aging process easier. By 2030, all baby boomers will be 65 or older. As the...

Comparing Costs of Assisted Living vs. Home Care

When envisioning retirement, seniors may plan to travel the world, spend more time with family and friends, or take up a new hobby to fill their days. But they don’t always plan for the cost of care should they need it. From just a little help with housekeeping to...

Senior Living in Jackson, MI: Guide for Seniors and Adult Children

The opportunity to grow older is a gift. It means more time to spend with the people you love, doing the activities you enjoy. There are a lot of misconceptions about getting older, especially when it comes to quality of life. Although ageist stereotypes may lead you...

Independent Living in Jackson, MI

Everyone ages, but no one ages in exactly the same way. Whereas some older people experience mobility issues and cognitive decline, others stay sprightly and mentally sharp their entire lives. That means that two seniors who are exactly the same age can have...

Share This