Winter Health and Vitality for Seniors As the year comes to a close, it’s time to take stock – not of your house and garden, or your finances or any similar matter, but rather of yourself and your health. Though there is a romance to the season, there is also the very real risk of flu and other winter illnesses, particularly the older you get. It’s just a fact of life. This is why it is so surprising that few people prepare for winter physically, as they do practically for their property and other assets.
After all, the body is just as important as the state of one’s roof or cleanliness of one’s chimney, and though you might carry out home maintenance just as ably as ten years ago, the body also needs looking after and retuning (much like a car, in some respects). To this end, although it is somewhat late in the year to encapsulate the full meaning of “preparation” for the colder months ahead, the following tips will serve to put in mind and “train” you for the next winter, and the next.
Giving Your Body a Boost
As mentioned, winter is the most vulnerable time for flu. It is highly advisable, therefore, to have your annual shot (and the one off pneumonia vaccine, if you doctor thinks it wise). Your health insurance will cover the former. The earlier you do this, and preferably while it’s still fall, the better. Indeed, it is estimated that between 2015 and 2016 the flu jab prevented 5.1 million cases of the illness.
The risk of catching flu increases the older you get and is more likely if you already suffer from a weakened immune system. Further to protecting yourself in this manner, it goes without saying that the right diet for the season will work wonders for keeping you fit and healthy against the cold and the damp, too. Although your appetite does decrease somewhat as the years go by, it’s no excuse to skimp on hearty soups and stews and mealtimes that are regular for added strength in the winter. In general, consider this your fuel – the warmer the meal, the warmer your body, and the less wood you need to put on the fire.
Addressing Aches and Pains
You don’t have to be old to feel the effects of the cold and the damp in joints and bones at this time of year. If you are chopping wood for a fireplace or woodstove, you’ll certainly know this as truth. Indeed, given keener preparations of the home and garden for winter than one’s body, it’s no surprise that the season also sees a substantial rise in complaints about upper back pain and neck pain (no doubt following a fevered bout of leaf raking, carrying logs and kindling indoors, and generally physically overdoing it in the rush to have everything done before the first frost. Address any problems you do have now, as you don’t want to have to refrain from playing with the grandkids due to self-inflicted back issues over the holiday season.
Keep on Moving
Obviously, if you’ve put the effort into house and garden and ended up paying for it with aches and pains, you’ll already have been “moving”, but it might astonish you to know that your generation is the most likely to be obese. Indeed, over two thirds of female and three quarters of male baby boomers are considered overweight or obese. Given that carrying excess weight can entail type-2 diabetes, increase the risk of heart disease (which is highly dangerous when you’re also in the higher likelihood of flu bracket), and exacerbate arthritis, your lifestyle really does have to be looked at if you find yourself tipping the scales into this classification, too. For instance, just as your diet has to be hearty and wholesome this season for a boost of vitamins and minerals and other nutritional benefits, that doesn’t mean it has to be overly dense on fats.
Furthermore, look at your activity levels, even if you’ve been involved in winter prep of home and land: do you usually move so much, or is it a seasonal one-off? Typically, fifteen minutes a day of exercise aids heart health, and lends itself to developing a routine that keeps the pounds off. Keep in mind the mantra “use it or lose it”, as the heavier you remain for longer, the more likely your future mobility is going to be reduced. Get off the sofa, switch off the television, and get moving this winter, so that you may the next.
The Social Aspect – Friends and Family
Of course, health and vitality isn’t just about the body, but the mind also. We are social animals and need to have company. Even if it’s a grey and miserable day outside, try to arrange regular social activities, whether with family or friends. Having someone with you for the flu or pneumonia shot, accompanying you to the store, or getting active by your side goes a long way to make life in general more enjoyable. At a time of year when the natural light does nothing to assist mental wellbeing, to be surrounded by those you love and care for (and are loved and cared for by in return) is endlessly beneficial. This is the perfect time of year to reconnect with people that you haven’t spoken to in a while, so pick up the phone or send an e-mail to pass on the season’s greeting.
Isn’t that the concept of Thanksgiving and Christmas, anyway? The coming together in gratitude and love, the toasting to each other’s health and happiness in the year ahead – it is heartfelt and true, in the end. Therefore, make sure you respond in kind and fulfill their wishes for you by taking care of yourself far in advance of fall’s end next year, and by adopting different, healthier habits today. You only have one life; continue to live it in better health for many years to come. You’ll enjoy taking care of home and garden all the more, to boot.