Tips for Keeping Seniors Healthy and Active During the Winter Months
Colder weather during the winter months tends to make seniors stay indoors even more than they already do, making it even harder to maintain an active and healthy lifestyle. Coupled with health conditions, staying indoors with little to no activity is just as unhealthy for the mind of seniors as it is for the health of their bodies. Ice and snow can make hard surfaces outdoors slippery and dangerous, making seniors more susceptible to falls that can result in serious injuries.
What can be done to help seniors stay safe, healthy and active during cold winter months? There are plenty of activities that can be done indoors to get your senior loved up and moving, even when outside conditions aren’t ideal.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
During the winter months, our bodies tend to naturally crave more comfort food – foods that are carbohydrate rich and loaded with sugar. While having a treat on occasion isn’t a bad thing, it’s very important to maintain a diet that consists mainly of vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. Root vegetables like potatoes, carrots and beets are abundant during this time of year, and provide much needed vitamins and minerals. Eating citrus fruits, which are high in Vitamin C, help maintain a healthy immune system. Foods rich in Zinc like fish, poultry and eggs also give a much needed immunity boost.
Vitamin D deficiency is common during the winter, and is seen to be one of the leading causes of Seasonal Depression Disorder (SAD). This vitamin deficiency is also associated with health concerns like cognitive decline and osteoporosis. Dieticians recommend that older adults consume more Vitamin D fortified foods like milk, whole grains and seafood like salmon or tuna.
Outdoor activities like walking can be much more limited when the weather outside is much colder. Encouraging seniors to stay on top of household chores is a good way to get them up and moving around the house. They should also be encouraged to walk room to room, or up and down the stairs if they are able, to break up any long periods of sedentary time.
Exercise dvds are also a good option, and there is an abundance of choices on the market to suit any exercise level ability.
Exercise Outdoors When Weather Permits
Outdoor exercise not only provides a natural mood enhancer for seniors, it also helps to support overall cognitive function. A short walk outside, when weather permits, is important not just for exercise, but for the Vitamin D natural sunlight provides. Wear a hat to prevent heat from leaving the body, and layer clothing that can be removed as needed. Even though the temperatures are colder, it’s still important to remember to wear sunscreen when outdoors.
Depression and loneliness are a concern for seniors at any time of year, but these problems become more intense during the winter months. It’s important that they have regular interaction with others. Regular phone calls or video chats go a long way in making them feel like they are important and still matter. Planned social, cultural, and spiritual activities like those offered at Elderberry Health Care are a great way for seniors in our care to remain involved in a community environment, and gives them opportunities to form and maintain new friendships.
A little extra planning and motivation can go a long way in making winter months enjoyable, and not just a season to be endured.
Elderberry’s Assisted Living offers a warm and safe environment for those who, for whatever reason, should not live alone or need an extra helping hand. Residents can live as independently as they wish, with the calm assurance that help is always available, should they require assistance with their activities of daily living. Contact us today.