For some, the cool temperatures and crisp air of winter is a refreshing change. However, for many of us – especially for retirement-age Americans – the shorter days, freezing temperatures and the accumulation of ice and snow can bring special challenges. Winter can be beautiful at times, but it can also be accompanied by serious risks to our health and safety.
Be Aware and Prepare
Various experts on winter safety, such as HealthinAging.org, remind us that there are several common wintertime hazards to be mindful of and prepare for before winter arrives. Some of the primary risks include:
- Hypothermia – Older adults produce less body heat than younger people do. Therefore, it can be difficult to tell when their temperature is too low. This can be dangerous because when your body is in the cold for too long, it begins to lose heat quickly. The result can be hypothermia, which is a dangerous drop in body temperature.
To protect yourself against low temperatures, dress warmly in loose fitting, layered clothes. Wear mittens rather than gloves because your fingers generate warmth when they rub together. Also be sure to wear a hat since up to 50 percent of body heat is lost through your head.
- Falls – Falls occur more frequently in winter due to the wet, icy conditions. To help prevent falls, wear shoes with non-skid soles and stay on sidewalks that have been cleared of snow and ice. Also, try to avoid being outside when it’s dark or when the weather conditions are hazardous.
- Snow Shoveling Injuries – Cold weather makes your heart work harder to keep you warm. Shoveling snow can put too much strain on your heart, especially if you have a heart condition. Shoveling can also be dangerous if you have osteoporosis or balance problems. Try to find someone to do it for you. If you have to shovel yourself, take frequent breaks and do not overexert yourself.
- Car Accidents and Road Emergencies – Driving during the winter can be hazardous for anyone. Have your snow tires put on well before the snowy weather begins. Also have your car winterized for oil, battery, wipers, window cleaner and antifreeze.
If you don’t already have a AAA membership, you might want to consider one in case of a road emergency. It’s also smart to keep warm blankets, winter clothing, snack food and bottles of water in your trunk in case you’re ever stuck for a lengthy period awaiting help. And always make sure your cell phone is fully charged.
- Home Heating Hazards – Keeping your home warm with a fireplace, gas heater or lanterns can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. Burning wood, natural gas, kerosene and other fuels produce this deadly gas that you cannot see or smell. To ensure your safety, purchase a carbon monoxide detector. If you already have one, be sure to check the batteries.
These and other appliances, such as kerosene lamps and electric heaters, can also be fire hazards. Therefore, be sure your smoke alarm is always in working order.
- Power Outages – Winter storms sometimes lead to lengthy power outages. Therefore, be sure you have working flashlights on hand and a battery-powered radio. Long power outages can spoil the food in your refrigerator and freezer so keep a supply of non-perishable foods available. If your power goes out, wear several layers of clothing, including a hat. Also move around frequently to raise your body temperature.
- Nutrition Deficiency and Dehydration – Because of the cold temperatures and shorter days, people often spend more time indoors and Vitamin D deficiency can be a problem. Nutrition specialists recommend eating foods that are fortified with Vitamin D such as milk, grains and seafood options like tuna and salmon. In addition, stay hydrated even if you do not feel thirsty. Try to drink at least six-to-eight glasses of water a day.
Your Safe Haven from Winter
If you are tired of the trials and tribulations of winter, you’ll find a welcome safe haven at beautiful Williamsburg Landing. Here you can kiss the winter blues goodbye. The living is always easy – no matter the calendar date or forecast.
Scott Richardson, Senior Director of Resident Services at The Kensington, says, “At Williamsburg Landing, we provide year-round services, such as housekeeping, scheduled transportation, maintenance services, security and an emergency response system, that make life as worry-free as possible. We make the winter months more manageable through transportation services with our fleet of vehicles; interior and exterior maintenance with snow and trash removal; concierge services, including tech support and ‘handy man’ services; and on-site medical services with a dedicated physician and outpatient clinic.
“And rather than succumb to ‘cabin fever,’ you can enjoy our beautiful health club, spa, heated 20-meter indoor pool and hot tub – great ways to pass the time while also staying healthy and fit.
“We invite you to discover the joys of living at Williamsburg Landing – 365 days a year!”
Welcome to Williamsburg Landing
Looking for a vibrant, engaging and fulfilling way of life? If so, you’ll find it at Williamsburg Landing.
Nestled on 137 wooded acres along the serene banks of College Creek in Williamsburg, VA, Williamsburg Landing is the premier, not-for-profit Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) serving Williamsburg and its surrounding areas since 1985. With one visit, you’ll understand what makes Williamsburg Landing so special.
Williamsburg Landing is an ideal blend of beautiful landscaping and elegant, Colonial architecture. It invites residents to become part of its vibrant, active lifestyle and rest assured in its award-winning medical care. It eases worries with maintenance-free homes and apartments with resort-style amenities and services. The community thrives with energetic, involved and friendly people who love to live here and the warmth of dedicated, committed professionals who love to work here.
With a past rich in tradition and a future filled with promise, Williamsburg Landing is the perfect place to call home – for today and tomorrow.