The chill in the air, frost on the windows in the early morning, bright sunshine through light gray clouds: Winter can be delightful.
For older adults, though, planning is important to ensure safe and enjoyable winter days. Let’s look at a few ideas for staying healthy:
Service your home heater. As people get older, it is more difficult to regulate body temperature and more dangerous to stay cold. Have an HVAC service check your heater to be sure that you won’t get caught without heat on a cold day. While you are at it, be sure that portable or room heaters and carbon monoxide detectors are in excellent condition and away from flammable items.
Get ready for snow and ice. Check your supply of de-icer, if you use it, and plan ahead for someone to clear snow. Inventory your emergency supplies, including food, water, medications, batteries and a portable radio or TV, in case of power outages.
Eat a varied, colorful diet to ensure your body and brain have nutrients for top performance. What a great time to do this with warm bowls of soup and delicious cranberry whole grain muffins! Cook a big pot of vegetable soup and freeze it in pint jars to eat every week or so. Add some home-baked muffins, and you have healthful food for a December evening. (See recipe ideas at vegetable soups and muffins.)
Exercise is essential for healthy bodies and brains, but the usual neighborhood walks and trips to the gym may be out of the question some days. You can find exercises on the computer at websites such as NIA’s Go4Life, and SilverSneakers.com. Exercise at home or with a neighbor for 30 minutes five times a week.
Games and Books
Stay mentally active to keep your mind healthy. Mah Jong, Bridge, a feisty game of Monopoly, and, of course, any interesting book or magazine make you think, may reduce stress, and are perfect for a healthy brain.
Socializing is incredibly important for a healthy body and mind. Bundle up and go to a class or have dinner with friends when you can. When it is just too cold, the telephone and computer can keep you in touch with others. Try using Skype or Facetime to see your friends on the phone or computer while you are talking!
Stay healthy and enjoy the chill in the air!
Would you like help making healthy and safe decisions for yourself or a loved one? Contact Dr. Cheryl Greenberg at TheAgeCoach@gmail.com to discuss your concerns and plan the next steps in a healthy and satisfying future.