Winter weather and the fear of falling can make it difficult for older adults to stay active, visit friends and family, and engage with the world around them. However, there are a few tips and some helpful technology for seniors that can make it easier to manage the physical and emotional toll that winter can take. Instead of hunkering down this season, try some of these:
According to Medline Plus, low body temperature can lead to hypothermia, which “can make you sleepy, confused, and clumsy. Because it happens gradually and affects your thinking, you may not realize you need help.” To fight hypothermia, be sure your senior dresses properly before heading outside, and take care to cover all parts of the body, including hands and head. Fleece-lined, waterproof boots can help to keep the feet dry and warm. And when you’re outside for extended periods of time (such as at football games), inexpensive hand warmers are helpful.
Rain, ice, sleet, and snow all increase the possibility of falling — that’s why a personal emergency response system is an important technology for seniors. Systems such as Philips’ GoSafe will enable seniors to feel confident wherever they go. GoSafe’s AutoAlert fall detection is particularly useful in the winter.
In addition to fall detection systems, medication management apps are huge benefits to seniors in the winter. Such apps are designed to remind individuals to take medication, keep track of doctors’ appointments and visits, and much more. When combined with automatic pill dispensers, they’re perfect for unpredictable winter weather.
It’s important for older adults to stay engaged and to get outside when the weather allows. Plan weekly dinners with your senior’s friends and neighbors, take her shopping with a friend, or attend indoor sporting events, museums, or art classes. Staying connected not only makes the winter go by faster, but it keeps seniors happier. If your loved one’s Medicare plan includes SilverSneakers, she can socialize with other seniors while staying active and fit.
For those bad-weather days, video chatting can keep your loved one connected with you, as well as other friends and family members. Consider setting up a video game console for your senior. Systems like the Nintendo Wii can offer lots of fun fitness games and activities. If she becomes bored, try brain exercises and training programs.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a seasonal depression that affects people mostly in the fall and winter, when daylight begins to diminish. Symptoms include depression, irritability, low energy, and hypersensitivity — each of which can be detrimental to senior health. You can address this problem head on by keeping your loved one safe and socially connected, and installing full-spectrum lights throughout the home. If those suggestions don’t seem to work, seek help from a medical practitioner.
There’s a whole world of tips and technology for seniors that can help your loved one remain active and engaged in the winter. Resolve today to take full advantage of the cold months, and you’ll find that spring will arrive before you know it.