Winter is a wonderful time of the year. While this cooler weather is a welcome change for all of us after warmer months, climate change can result in challenges for seniors trying to stay healthy. As we age, the ability to fight against viruses and diseases becomes harder due to weaker immune systems. This is the reason it is vital to help our elders try to stay healthy in winter.
Bacterial, fungal, and viral infections are a few major concerns among the elderly, especially if they are having any health issues. Apart from the regular COVID-19 prevention protocols, it is a must to follow certain winter tips to keep unnecessary hospital visits and winter health risks at bay. A healthy lifestyle promotes activeness and benefits the elderly to stay healthy in winter.
Why Winter isn’t a Senior-Friendly Season?
For many, cold temperatures are a minor difficulty that can be resolved by wearing warm clothes. However, these temperature shifts can be a major concern for the elderly for various reasons. First, as one age, the body loses the mechanism to stay warm. A big chill can result in various hazardous problems such as hypothermia, liver damage, kidney problems, and other issues. Apart from these winter health problems, the likelihood of falling is also increased among seniors.
It becomes extremely important to help your loved ones stay healthy during the winter by looking for healthy lifestyle changes and keeping an eye on the senior when caregiving.
Why Staying Healthy in Winter is important?
With temperatures dropping, it is essential for our elderly loved ones to take extra precautions to stay healthy. A healthy lifestyle will help them to prevent health-related illnesses that are commonly found during the winter months.
Here are some of the illnesses that can be prevented by following winter preventive measures.
It is the most significant problem that is commonly seen among seniors in winter. It occurs when the body becomes too cold and starts to shut down. Older adults are at an increased risk of this condition because their bodies lose the ability to withstand cold temperatures. In addition, the intake of medications and other health complications can further increase the risk of hypothermia. Some signs and symptoms of hypothermia include sleepiness, feeling cold, shallow breathing, confusion, slower movement, and slurred speech.
TIP: To lower the risk of hypothermia, help the elderly to dress for the weather, follow a healthy diet, and encourage them to stay indoors, etc. Help them with their errands whenever possible. Aim to be extra vigilant when they have the flu, a cold, or any long-term health issues.
Seniors who are living in climates that receive ice and snow are at an increased risk of falling during winter. As they age, the sensation in their feet can decline, especially when they are diabetic, or have poor circulation and/or arthritis. This decreased sensation can result in improper balance and lead to falls.
TIP: To reduce the probability of falls among the elderly, help them follow a healthy diet as well as perform exercises because these can increase their strength and endurance. Also, make sure they have routine eye check-ups to ensure they aren’t having any vision problems. If possible, adopt caregiving services from in-home care service providers. This can ensure that a caregiver is always there at their side or following behind and can be one of the best ways to prevent falls.
Older people are at a higher risk of developing heart problems during winter. As they age, their ability to cope with the dropping temperature reduces. Also, with reduced muscle mass, they are at an increased risk of heart issues due to their inability to tolerate cold temperatures. The only way to help seniors in reducing this risk is by following some prevention measures.
TIP: To prevent the risk of heart problems among the elderly, help them in reducing their exposure to cold. Wind chills can make exercising troublesome with warm clothing, so help them avoid warm clothes while exercising. Additionally, support them in getting a flu vaccine. Adapting these tips can reduce the risks associated with cardiac health during the winter.
No matter what time of the year, it is always advisable to practice good hygiene. This need grows exponentially when the cold and flu season arrives. It’s important to promote good health, particularly when we have loved ones who are elderly and have challenges with their immune system. The cold weather puts more pressure on seniors’ health and increases the risks of stroke, hypothermia, heart attacks, falls, etc. Despite the health and safety concerns that come along with winter, the good news is that we can safeguard our senior’s health by following winter health tips.
Though staying indoors is recommended for the elderly during winter, this, in turn, can result in depression. Because of this, it is advised to support seniors in enjoying nature and help them in participating in activities that can boost their quality of life.
If you feel your loved one needs a companion in maintaining positive mental health and physical wellness during the winter season, reach out to Assured today! Our caregivers are knowledgeable and know what to look for during cold temperatures. With our customizable in-home care plans, we are sure your loved ones would benefit from our services.
For a free consultation, contact us at (248) 593-8134. Our Registered Nurses (RNs) are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help you!