Winter can be tough on seniors: the colder weather makes it harder for those less mobile, getting out and about is more demanding, and keeping up with their everyday routines can be completely disrupted. As a result, many seniors are out and about less, leading to more feelings of depression and isolation. To help seniors stay safe and healthy, here are five of the top tips to keep seniors happy and healthy this winter.
Focus on Healthy Eating
Healthy eating is at the core of all overall health. Getting the correct vitamins, water, and energy from food can help fight many diseases seniors are susceptible to developing.
Eating healthy looks different for different seniors; what nutrition they need depends on their exercise, if they are taking medication and lifestyle. It’s suggested that seniors avoid empty calories and focus on foods low in cholesterol and fat.
There are a couple of ways to eat healthy on a budget too! A senior can clip coupons, ask for senior discounts, shop store brands instead of name brands, and try to buy in bulk whenever possible.
Despite these tips, getting healthy food can still be a challenge for seniors. Some might not have access to healthy food and snacks in their area. Or they simply can’t afford them. One way to help is to contact our partners for food delivery assistance!
Hydrate – Drink Plenty of Water
This winter, seniors and family members who want to stay safe and healthy should focus on staying hydrated! This might seem like an everyday activity everyone should do, but many seniors forget to drink as much as they would during the summer!
It’s also much more challenging for seniors to stay hydrated than younger people, so getting enough water can be a full-time activity! Not drinking enough can lead to dehydration symptoms, making it harder for a senior to stay healthy. Common dehydration symptoms are:
- Yellow urine
- Dry lips or mouth
- Lower blood pressure
It’s recommended that seniors get six to eight glasses of water a day. One of the best ways for seniors who take medications to get enough water is to always drink a full glass of water whenever they have to take pills. Seniors should also sip on water to get in enough water throughout their day.
Get Some Exercise
Everyone, especially seniors, should always get the recommended amount of exercise given by health professionals. When they do, their overall health is improved, and they can potentially avoid developing certain diseases.
Getting physical exercise for seniors can seem like a daunting experience, especially for those who have difficulty with their mobility. While many seniors aren’t going to be at the gym lifting weights, there are many exercises that they can do:
- Water aerobics
- Yoga or chair yoga
- Lite pilates
- lite dumbbell exercises
- Walking, if their mobility allows
As a reminder, getting any kind of physical activity will improve senior health, but some of the best activities are going to be balance exercises. Many gyms offer balance exercises for seniors or are available as at-home workouts due to COVID-19.
Keep the Brain Active
While the brain isn’t a muscle, it needs to be worked out the same as the body does! For your senior to stay safe and healthy during the winter, it’s essential to stimulate their brain too.
Mental exercise helps our senior loved ones be present and keep them in the moment. Studies have demonstrated that the more active our brains are, especially memory-related tasks, the more elastic our brains are. This means that mental exercises can potentially work against symptoms of memory disorders like Alzheimer’s or other dementia-related diseases. These activities are also helpful, in the right circumstances, for seniors who already have dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Active brain health doesn’t just mean doing Sudoku puzzles or crossword puzzles, either! There are many positive mental exercises that a senior can do, including:
- Puzzles: Regular puzzles at any difficulty level. Those Ravensburger puzzles that are more than five thousand pieces might be a bit much! But not if your senior loved one enjoys them, of course.
- Music: Music has a powerful effect on our emotions and mental health. Seniors who are already musically inclined can practice their skills by playing an instrument, singing, or simply listening to it. It’s also an option to take up learning a brand new music skill since it’s never too late to try something new!
- Crafts: There are so many different crafting options out there to try! Even the simplest activities can help those neurons start firing and creating new mental pathways.
Get Some Rest
Rest is one of the most important activities your senior can do to stay safe and healthy during the winter. Many seniors will push themselves beyond their body’s capacity: they need to rest when their bodies need it!
That can be hard in the world of “go, go, go,” even for seniors. That’s why seniors should make time to simply rest, whether that’s taking a nap, watching TV, or reading a book. This can be scheduled time throughout their day or impromptu when it’s most needed.
How Meals on Wheels Can Help
Meals on Wheels of Contra Costa and our partners are here to help seniors in our community get the proper nutrition they need to thrive. Our partner’s senior meal delivery services provide meals for over two thousand seniors every single week, closing that gap between senior health and their nutritional needs.
We hope that these tips about how seniors can stay safe and healthy during the winter were helpful to you and your loved one. If you are interested in volunteering for Meals on Wheels of Contra Costa or our partners, please go here. And if you are interested in donating to the great work we all do, please go here!