7 Ways for Seniors to Stay Healthy All Winter Long

The winter season can be a challenging time for senior adults to stay healthy, safe and well. Seniors are more prone to illnesses in cold weather and are also at risk for other winter hazards such as falls, loneliness and seasonal depression.

Stacey Houseknecht, NHA, CTRS, Administrator at Saunders House, says, "Despite the health and safety concerns that accompany winter, the good news is that there are several steps older adults can take to safeguard their health and make the season more enjoyable.

The following winter survival tips by senior health experts can help you get through the cold weather months safely and in good health."

Winter Health Tips for Seniors

  1. Keep warm – Older adults are at an increased risk of dangerous hypothermia in winter due to changes that occur to the body with aging.  Therefore, stay inside when it's extremely cold. If you have to go out, wear several layers of clothing, a hat and gloves. And stay dry! Since seniors tend to lose heat more quickly than younger people, it is recommended that you set the temperature in your home to at least 68 degrees.
  2. Wear proper shoes and boots – Icy winter conditions can make walking outside extremely dangerous for seniors. You can reduce your risk of serious falls by purchasing "winter-safe" footwear with soles that grip slippery surfaces. If you use a cane, make sure the rubber tip still has plenty of traction.
  3. Maintain a healthy, balanced diet – The National Council on Aging article, "Healthy Eating Tips for Seniors" recommends lean protein (lean meats, seafood, eggs, beans), fruits and vegetables (think orange, red, green and purple), whole grains (brown rice and whole-wheat pasta) and low-fat dairy (milk and its alternatives) for optimal nutritional health.

With less sunshine available in winter, Vitamin D deficiency can be a significant health concern for seniors. If it's too cold to be outside on a sunny winter day, sit by the window and soak up the rays. A multivitamin can also help ensure you're getting all the vitamins and minerals necessary for good health and a robust immune system. 

  1. Keep moving – Physical activity is a proven mood-booster that benefits seniors' physical and emotional health. Exercise indoors or go for an invigorating walk outside. Many age and function-appropriate exercise activities can be found on the internet that you can do in the comfort of your home. If you go out for a walk, it's wise to take a cell phone just in case you need help.
  2. Protect yourself from seasonal depression – Lack of sunshine, freezing temperatures and feeling stuck at home can give any of us the "Winter Blues." To help ward off seasonal depression, make an effort to see your friends and loved ones outdoors if possible, and try to stay active. If the weather isn't conducive to visiting friends and family, you can maintain your social contacts by using FaceTime on your iPhone or scheduling virtual visits using Zoom or Skype on the computer. Try your best to get some fresh air and natural light every day, even if it's just a short walk.    
  3. Prepare for snowstorms and power outages – A heavy winter snow or ice storm can make traveling impossible and knock out electric power, leaving seniors isolated and on their own. Therefore, always be prepared! Keep your home stocked with sufficient food, water, medical prescriptions, flashlights and items such as warm blankets to safeguard your health.
  4. Winter-proof your vehicle – Seniors who drive should prepare their cars for winter with snow tires, wiper fluid, antifreeze and an ice scraper. Health and safety experts say it is also wise to keep water, snacks, booster cables, blankets and a flashlight in your car. To reduce the risk of getting stranded on the road this winter, consider purchasing a AAA membership

Stacey adds, "By following these simple winter health tips for seniors, you can add to your comfort and enjoyment of the season and be ready to welcome spring."

We encourage you to call us with any general questions you might have and to stay current on a variety of senior health and caregiver topics by viewing the latest articles on our website.

We'd Love to Hear Your Thoughts!

If you have comments or questions about our blog, "7 Ways for Seniors to Stay Healthy All Winter Long," we'd love to hear from you. We also encourage you to share any of your caregiving experiences with us in our comments section.

Discover Our Healthy Tradition of Care and Wellness

Located adjacent to Lankenau Medical Center, Saunders House – has a celebrated tradition of providing exceptional care and services to seniors and their families. It's a tradition we're proud to continue.

Today, Saunders House offers a range of services – including short-term rehabilitation, traditional nursing care, restorative care, memory care, respite care and specialized care for individuals with visual impairments – all in a setting that is warm, welcoming and nurturing.

For more information on Saunders House, our short-term rehabilitation program and other professional services, please call us today at 610.658.5100 or contact us online.

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Disclaimer: The articles and tip sheets on this website are offered by Saunders House for general informational and educational purposes and do not constitute legal or medical advice. For legal or medical advice, please contact your attorney or physician.

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