During the scurried time of the changing weather, hectic schedules, increased social activity, and family demands leave us vulnerable to fatigue, illness, injury, and poor nutrition. Let’s discuss some of the health and safety tips for this fast approaching susceptible winter season.
Although cold temperatures have not quite arrived yet we need to anticipate they are coming. The American Red Cross offers steps that can be taken to stay safe during the winter.
Here are just a few: keep all walkways clear of ice and snow, have de-icing products handy for hard to remove ice or snow, ensure that all walkways are clearly marked and well lit, be careful of slippery surfaces inside our communities caused by tracking snow and ice (please make our staff aware if this occurs for quick clean up), wear slip-resistant footwear, do not walk on wet, slippery surfaces, Avoid carrying heavy loads that may offset balance, wear sunglasses on sunny days to lessen winter glare, take extra precautions when entering and exiting vehicles, wear layers of light clothing, protect extremities with heavy socks, mittens (preferred over gloves for warmth) with a hat, and finally, never use your stove to warm or heat your home. If you have breathing issues a scarf may also be recommended to protect your airways from the bitter wind.
When it’s cold outside, there’s no need to give up and hibernate. If you live in a Hearth Community look at our Hearth Activity Calendar and take advantage of our Move More exercise sessions or join up with our Wellness Aide. Continuing physical activity reduces the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, some cancers, osteoporosis, and the winter blues or seasonal affective disorder. Physical activity will also increase energy level and help you sleep better at night.
Eating healthy throughout the winter months can be challenging. On a chilly day, it’s tempting to curl up on the couch with a bowl of salty (canned) soup or have microwavable dinners which are high in salt and calories, therefore, if you are lucky to live in a Hearth Community it is encouraged to continue to come to the Hearth’s dining room for your balanced nutritious meals.
As it gets darker earlier, we get less sunlight exposure which can lead to a drop in serotonin levels and cause food cravings and depression. Outside time is encouraged when possible, moving furniture near windows for sunlight exposure is an indoor alternative. Serotonin can be increased with healthy carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes, yams, pumpkins and squash in your diet. Most of all be conscious of those winter doldrums and continue your socialization during meal times, through activities and keep friends and family informed if these feelings persist.
Lastly, good handwashing is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs. Remember to wash your hands before and after a meal, after using the restroom, after sneezing, coughing, blowing your nose, and anytime you feel they need to be washed. Good Hand Washing consists of running water, using soap and the friction caused by rubbing your hands together for at least 40 seconds and using a dry cloth to dry.
By following these health and safety tips you can anticipate some of the vulnerability we experience during this busy winter season and maintain better health.
Regional Director of Clinical Services – New York