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Top Winter Safety Tips for Indiana Seniors

January 1, 0001

Top Winter Safety Tips for Indiana Seniors
If you are one of the 841,000 older adults living in Indiana, you probably know staying safe and healthy in the winter takes extra effort. From slip and fall injuries to seasonal depression, cold weather creates unique challenges. Understanding what preventative steps you can take may make a big difference. We’ve pulled together some of our bet tips to help you survive the Indiana winter.
Preventing Winter Falls Among Older Adults in Indiana
For many seniors across the Hoosier state, icy sidewalks and parking lots present some of the greatest risks. Falls remain the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries among older adults. Here are a few safety tips to remember when the ice and snow blow:
  1. Have a snow removal plan in place to make sure your walkways and driveways are kept clear. If you can’t afford a landscape service on your own, call your local office of the Indiana Agency on Aging. They will likely have resources they can refer you to for help.
  2. If you use an assistive device such as a cane, make sure the tip is in good repair and has a non-skid grip on it. It can help you avoid slipping on the ice.
  3. Be sure to wear boots or shoes that have good traction and non-skid soles. Equally important is to take them off and place them on a thick rug or towel as soon as you get back in to the house. Because the snow that built up on the bottom of your boots will melt indoors, it can create a fall hazard inside your home.
Take Steps to Shoo the Flu
The flu virus is another health condition that can hit older adults hard during winter months. While this year’s vaccine hasn’t proven to be as successful as in past years, it is still one of the best steps you can take to avoid getting bitten by the bug. In a typical year, only about 62% of Indiana’s seniors get the flu vaccine. Other ways to prevent the flu include:
  • Eating a well-balanced diet rich in vitamins A, C, E, selenium, zinc, and beta carotene can help boost your immunity. The healthier your immune system, the lower your risk is for catching the virus.
  • Exercise and sleep are two other ways to pump up your immune system. 30 minutes of combined daily exercise is the general recommendation, as is getting 7- 8 hours of quality sleep each night.
  • Good hygiene is especially important during flu season. Wash your hands thoroughly with warm, soapy water throughout the day. You should wash them long enough to be able to silently sing the whole first chorus of Yankee Doodle. Also avoid touching your mouth and nose, especially when you have been around crowds or in public spaces.
Social Isolation, Seasonal Affective Disorder and Indiana Seniors
Social isolation has been proven to negatively impact an older adult’s health. It can lead to a variety of problems ranging from depression to obesity. Winters can be rough for older adults who live alone. The snow and ice make it difficult to get outside or to enjoy your usual outings, especially for seniors in more rural areas of Indiana.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is another problem for seniors who live in northern climates like Indiana. It is linked to a lack of sunlight during cold winter months. Experts believe the body’s natural circadian rhythm and serotonin levels are disrupted by decreased hours of natural light, leading to problems with sleeping and depression.
To help stay emotionally and mentally fit during the winter:
  • Talk with your physician about taking a vitamin D supplement. Lack of sunlight often causes a vitamin D deficiency among older adults.
  • Let your physician know if you are feeling more than just a little blue. They can evaluate you for SAD or depression and make recommendations for treatment.
  • Stay connected to family and friends. While winter may make it tougher to do in person, there are other avenues to explore. Try setting up a Facebook page to keep in touch. You can also use a video chat service such as Skype for “face-to-face” conversations. The feeling of connectedness is important any time of year, but especially so in winter.
Finally, if you are just plain tired of winter this year, we invite you to join us for a Seasonal Stay in one of our 16 Indiana retirement communities. From Indianapolis to Fort Wayne to Kokomo, we have a community near you.