Do you remember the joy of winter – making snow angels, catching snowflakes on your tongue, ice skating, sledding, and skiing? Those were the days – yes, when we could nimbly negotiate the ice and snow. And, we remember when falling down wasn’t quite so painful and dangerous with such long-lasting effects. But we know that as we age, our bodies become more fragile and require a little more TLC. So, here are a few things to help you weather the winter a little better.
Keep your extremities warm. You may have already noticed that your hands and feet get cold faster than they used to. This is due primarily to a change in blood circulation. It could also result from medications and medical conditions. Check with your physician if you are having difficulties with this. One of my favorite ways to warm up is to snuggle with a warm fleece. I find that if I can keep my feet warm, the rest of me is easier to keep warm! I could always tell when the evenings and mornings were becoming chilly because my daughter dug out her Uggs. And, when walking the dogs in the cold evenings, I would rarely leave the house without my warm ear muffs, a scarf and gloves.
Be very careful if you have to be outside in the snow and ice. Remember, our bodies are more fragile as we age and it is too easy to lose our balance, slip and fall, and do major damage to ourselves. If you have someone who can help you negotiate those slippery walks and roads, please ask for assistance. Otherwise, try to avoid going out in the ice and snow.
Hydrate your body with lots of water. Also, try to avoid sugary drinks and alcohol. Green tea and other teas are much better for you. Check with your physician to find out what the ideal amount of water is best for your body. Good hydration will also help to keep your skin soft. Hand creams and body lotions are helpful, too, but avoid those with petrolatum and mineral oil as they may dry your skin. A dermatologist can steer you in the right direction.
Stay active and get some exercise. If you are able, engage in an exercise program that will keep you moving. Walking (even inside) is good, especially if you walk with a friend. Years ago, a friend and I walked early every morning. I truly believe the workout was more for our lungs and hearts than our legs since we talked non-stop during the entire walks! Yoga, water aerobics and swimming are also wonderful ways to stay fit. If walking is difficult or impossible for you, check out chair-based exercise programs. Some of those will really give you a workout!
Get plenty of rest. As always, our bodies need to recover from what we have put them through during the day, so make sure that you are getting adequate restful sleep.
Socialize with friends and family. There are many people who become depressed when they cannot spend as much time out in the sunshine with their friends and family as they can in warmer seasons, so move your activities inside! Get together with friends and have some fun playing ping pong, pool, cards, games (Scrabble, Monopoly, Clue, and Pictionary are always great favorites. Even a heated game of Battleship can be fun!), Chess and Checkers, and puzzles that you work on together. You can catch up on your reading, too, for times when you want to be alone.
And finally, enjoy the change in seasons. The days are shorter, but this is a great time to enjoy the outdoors, even from the warmth of the inside, so appreciate the beauty of winter. And remember, that spring is on its way!