Blog Post: 9 Tips for Cold Weather

A tree branch looking beautiful covered by ice and snow.

Cold weather is definitely here, and probably will be with us for at least another month or two. Hopefully we don’t have too many “minus 30 with wind chill” days ahead of us, but even when the temperature isn’t quite so low, cold and snowy weather can still have an impact our bodies and spirits. For seniors, there may be additional impacts. This article will share 9 tips for staying warm and comfortable in cold weather.

1. Become a snowbird and move to Florida for the winter! Kidding! Of course that isn’t an option for everyone, including those who just love winter and want to stick around Canada to enjoy lovely landscapes, clear air and cozy evenings by the fireplace.

2. Plan ahead: in your car, and in your home. Gather any supplies you would need in case of being stuck or stranded by storm or severe cold. That includes blankets, flashlights and batteries, extra food and water, extra medication, etc. For more information go to the Government of Canada's page on winter emergency preparedness as well as this page from the US government on the same topic

3. Dress appropriately: Everyone needs to dress appropriately for the weather, making sure to wear hats, scarves, mitts, a heavy enough coat, appropriate boots, etc., covering all exposed skin in frigid temperatures. Seniors, who tend to feel the cold more and may have health conditions, need to be even more diligent in this area. Luckily these days it’s very trendy to gear up in heavy coats, hunter caps, and giant Sorel boots. Be cool, feel warm.

Luther Village residents (or any individual who also has access to emergency response system technologies) are additionally encouraged to not forget that all important accessory, your Emergency Response System pendant. It doesn’t necessarily keep you warm, but if you fall while on the grounds at Luther Village (or in range of your response system's area of coverage), you can call for quick help, which is vital to your safety when the temperatures are below freezing.

4. Don’t use your stove as a heating device. This risks fire and toxic fumes.

5. Make sure to use assistive devices in icy weather. Icy patches can hide under snow, and snow itself can causes trips and slips, especially if you’re hurrying to get through the cold quicker. The use of assistive devices like canes, walkers, handrails, etc., ensures a safe trip, rather than a trip and fall!

6. Know the signs of frostbite and hypothermia. Hopefully you’ll not get to this point, but if you do, know what’s happening so you can get help. “Hypothermia symptoms include slurred speech, sluggishness, confusion, dizziness, shallow breathing, unusual behavior and slow, irregular heartbeat. Frostbite symptoms include gray, white or yellow skin discoloration, numbness and a waxy feeling to the skin. If either of these conditions is suspected get immediate emergency help.” (This quote from Protected Tomorrow's article on this topic.)

7. Avoid going outside if it is too cold or stormy. Yes, sometimes winter can create a degree of cabin fever, but there are days when it’s simply better to stay inside. We see lots of Luther Village residents enjoying our “main street” in the main building for an indoor walk on cold days. Your mother said fresh air is always good for you, but there are days when the air is a little too fresh! Avoid risk of accidents, falls and frostbite, and stay cozy while you get active inside.

8. Lift your spirits. Create a plan with friends and family members to “check in” during periods where you can’t go out. Engage with others via the telephone, email, write a letter, Skype (online phone with video), listen to the radio (especially call in shows – maybe be brave and call in yourself!). Stay connected to the outside world, even when you can’t physically go out.

9. Lift the spirits of another. Lots of seniors enjoy crafting, knitting and volunteering their time to help others. Why not combine these and get involved with programs to knit warm winter clothing for the homeless? Winter can be a time of hardship for these individuals and one way to help is to provide warm clothing. For learn more, check out the website of the Toronto based organization StreetKnit or read this article about a woman who donated toques to local charities.  

To learn more, check out:

Protected Tomorrows

Care.com

Health in Aging