Lessons from Winter

Snow in Winter SeasonAs snow piles outside and the daylight hours become shorter, your elderly loved ones need help in overcoming the emotional and physical risks posed by this expected and yet challenging natural event.

Boston magazine points out 10 tips for keeping your elderly loved ones safe and healthy during the winter months; keeping accessible complete emergency kit that contains basic winter supplies, nutritious food, fall prevention measures, safe driving, home insulation, removing fire risks, dressing for winter, activity and exercise, and having a list of accessible emergency contacts.

This article offer further thoughts on how to assist your loved ones cope with risks associated with winter weather. These includes, but are not limited to; healthy food choices and supplements, watching out for early symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), preventing isolation and elevating your loved ones activity levels.

Eating food that would enhance the immune system is extremely essential in winter. An immune system helps in fighting colds and flu which are very prevalent in winter months. Immune system boosters are foods loaded in vitamin C and E. Vitamins C and E are antioxidants. Fruits and vegetables contain plenty of immune system boosters. On top of the list are citrus fruits, cabbages, broccoli, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, spinach, strawberries, red and green peppers, kiwi fruits, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, almonds and others. For most people, getting adequate fresh fruits and vegetables in winter is problematic because prices for these products shoot up during the winter months. Most people are tempted to switch to cheaper canned fruits and vegetable which have far much lower nutritional value. However, frozen fruits and vegetables make for a wiser choice because they are reasonably priced and contain as much of the required nutrients as fresh fruits and vegetables. For further information kindly refer to  magazine for nutritional professionals.

Use of Vitamin D supplement in winter is vital given the shorter daylight hours. During warmer months, with longer daylight hours, Vitamin D is naturally synthesized in the skin by UV B radiation from the sun. Low exposure to sun in winter can cause a drop in serotonin that can lead to depression. Studies have shown that use of Vitamin D supplements can reduce the risk of colon, breast and ovarian cancers by as much as 50%. For more information, refer to this article published in European Journal of Clinical nutrition.

The longer dark hours of winter, coupled with cold outdoor temperatures, can make your elderly loved ones feel isolated and inactive. Care giving professionals recommend engaging in indoor activities that involve walking from one part of the house to another and doing some safe indoor exercises, participating in potlucks, eating out, attending family festivities, and other activities to keep them occupied. Most local senior centers have information on community activities. Checking on your loved ones by calling and visiting can be particularly helpful.

One of most understated winter associated risk is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a form of depression that cycle with seasons, particularly winter. This article published in national library of medicine warns that as many as 10 million Americans may suffer from SAD. SAD can be identified by symptoms as such as hopelessness, sluggish movements, anxiety, loss of interest in activities, less energy and ability to concentrate, social withdrawal, and irritability. Some of these signs are very difficult to diagnose in seniors because they can be confused with other physical complaints. The article further explains that the symptoms are usually the same as with other forms of depression. Watching out for early signs and getting early medical intervention is key. In addition, encourage the elderly person to get enough sleep and eat healthy foods. Refer to Wikipedia for more information on SAD and keep safe.

 

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