Winter is a great time for many Minnesotans. The holidays are a joyous time, snow brings back great memories, and families cozy up to warm fireplaces and listen to the pop and crack as they watch their favorite movies. But older family members often experience great challenges during this time of year, when the harsh weather poses physical and emotional barriers to their usual activities and wellness.

Physical Challenges For Seniors In Winter

For seniors, winter bring threats of hypothermia, frostbite, dehydration, bone fractures, heart attacks, injuries, and illnesses such as the flu or pneumonia.

Most of these challenges are easy to overcome. Teach your older relatives to keep their homes at 70 degrees and dress in two or three layers of clothing. This prevents hypothermia and goes a long way in warding off illnesses. An indoor humidifier keeps the air moist, which also fights off illness.

It is important to check in on seniors from time to time. Many elderly persons should avoid driving and walking on snow and ice. Ask them if you can help by delivering groceries or other needs or by taking care of household chores for them. These simple acts reduce loneliness and discourage older adults from taking unnecessary risks that might lead to injury.

Emotional Challenges For Seniors In Winter

Emotional challenges that are intensified by winter weather can be most difficult for the older adult. Many struggle with:

  • Social isolation
  • Loneliness
  • Depression
  • Confusion over the time of day
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lack of energy and interest in activities

Frequent visits take care of most of these winter challenges. You don’t have to live with older relatives to be a big help; daily phone calls to check in, and an in-person visit a couple of times a week will help to stave off feelings of loneliness or isolation. Seniors love having someone to talk to, so stop by and play a game of cards, or watch TV with them for a couple of hours – you may be surprised to find that you have as much fun as they do! If you live far from your elderly friend or relative consider looking into groups who provide companionship and or visits like professional Minnesota home care agencies, church volunteers or local senior center opportunities.