The cold in Lehi and Alpine might be portents of a very cold winter season in Utah. Along with the cold comes a host of problems affecting seniors, most of which can be easily dealt with.
Ice and snow can be dangerous. Road conditions are unpredictable and accidents are more common. Even walking becomes risky as ice can make pavements slippery. Car accidents and slips and falls can have serious consequences, especially for seniors. Try to avoid driving in the snow; use snow tires and have your airbags checked. Always walk with a companion. While that may not ensure a slip-less trip, at least someone can assist you or call fall help when you meet an accident. Walk slowly and try to wear boots or slip-resistant shoes.
Winter aches are among the reasons seniors are choosing to retire in warmer states like Florida and Arizona. However, you don’t need to leave the state just to relieve your aching joints. A little exercise can work wonders. Many seniors prefer swimming in heated pools. Swimming is easier on the joints and warm water can relax the muscles.
Winter is flu season. The drop in humidity allows the flu virus to live longer and the close proximity with each other (everyone’s indoors) allows for more chances of transmission. Seniors have weaker immune systems and the cold further hampers them. Get a flu shot. While flu shots may not be 100 percent effective in preventing every type of flu. They make the symptoms more manageable and less severe. Even if you feel healthy, don’t avoid the vaccine. A significant number of deaths is attributed to flu each year — often ones that progressed to pneumonia.
The winter blues are real. Researchers and doctors even coined a term for it: seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Light plays a big factor in SADs. Sunlight is known to induce the production of serotonin, a hormone that regulates moods and gives you a happy vibe. Gloomy sunless winters decrease your body’s production of serotonin, affecting you at a physiological and neurological level.
Isolation also plays a big part in the winter blues. Everyone is staying indoors and social interactions became less frequent. Try to get out of the house and get some sunshine. If the weather is too cold — turn up the lights in your house. Schedule meetings or visits with friends and family. Getting in touch with people can drive these winter blues away.
Doctors and clinics that specialize in gastroenterology become quite busy during the winter months. Your digestive system goes into overdrive when it turns cold; this means more acids and gastric juices. However, the cold air can also put your body in a hibernation-like state (especially in the mornings), leading to contractions, gas, bloat, and indigestion. Try to avoid uncooked or spicy foods. Give your stomach a chance to warm up in the mornings and avoid cold food as much as you can.
Brace for the cold and everything that comes with it. Knowing what to expect makes your winters safer and more enjoyable.