The Christmas season is a time for festive meals, connecting with family and friends, and braving the elements of another Canadian winter. This means longer days, disrupted schedules and other challenges for seniors. With a little bit of care and planning, and knowing what to watch for, a safe and happy holiday season will be the best gift that you can give yourself this year.
The best defence for winter sidewalks is good traction; be sure your shoes or boots offer the security of non-slip soles. Even with the best footwear, take the time to choose your route – some sidewalks look dry but are actually covered in a thin layer of ice.
A solid cane offers support as long as worn tips are replaced. Some canes come with a retractable ice pick, or you can invest in a removable snow grip. Even if you don’t require it year ‘round, a walker provides extra support on icy walks. Also remember to shuffle your feet in short steps to avoid falling. Once you’ve reached your destination, be aware that wet or icy shoes can be slippery on a hard indoor surface. And finally, wearing a hip protector may prevent a nasty injury.
In cold weather, cover exposed skin to prevent frostbite. Along with a good hat and gloves, dress in layers and choose a coat that blocks the wind. Before you step outside, you’ll breathe easier with a scarf over your mouth and nose.
The shorter days of winter can be depressing. Be sure to enjoy a little sunshine by stepping outside for a short break just to enjoy the fresh air or taking a short walk.
Another idea to fight isolation and the winter blues – organize events with good friends. Host a potluck dinner, or invite them over for a simple evening of cards, tea and baking.
Regular exercise is one of the simplest ways to stay healthy. Set time aside for a brisk walk, even indoors. If you enjoy mall walking, go early and plan to finish before the crowds arrive. Especially during the Christmas shopping season or Boxing Day sales. Partner up with a friend and join an exercise class or visit a gym or pool. You may even be able to find yoga or chair exercises for seniors on TV or online.
Winter is flu season, but the good news is, help is close at hand. Most pharmacies and health centres are able to provide you with a flu shot and there is likely one in your neighbourhood. Ask for the High-Dose flu shot for extra protection.
Getting a proper night’s sleep is good for body, mind and soul and it will help you keep germs at bay. If you know you have a busy evening ahead of you, consider a nap.
As much as you try to control your time and activity, the holidays can be unpredictable. Make sure you don’t get dehydrated. Seniors often experience diminished thirst sensation so you may not even know you’re thirsty. Plan water breaks throughout the day and drink an amount that feels right for you. Signs of dehydration can include: headaches, confusion, dizziness, or rapid heart rate.
Make sure you’re getting enough activity and enough rest. Have social time so you don’t feel isolated, but don’t overdo it. Create some time for you as well. You’re surrounded by holiday treats but remember your fruits, vegetables and grains. Enjoy the fresh air and sunshine, but watch out for slippery sidewalks.
Most of all – look after you. Use good common sense to stay active, social and happy. Those are the mandates around which Christenson Communities are founded. If you’d like to find out more, visit our Active Senior's page.