As we turn the calendar towards November, thoughts of facing the winter weather can be challenging for seniors, with fewer options for social and physical activities when cold, icy conditions move in. Winter can prove to be an opportunity for more social companionship to brighten daily life and beat the winter blues for those who live in assisted care or a rest home. Senior living (as opposed to living alone) is something that appeals to many of us during those winter months when seniors long for more recreational experiences, tasty, nutritious meals and a safe, comfortable haven from the hassles and hazards of winter. Rather than creating barriers to more physical and social activities as living alone often does, assisted living or homes like ours can be one of the best decisions when it comes to finding a safe, comfortable haven from the hazards of winter.
Here are some key benefits to a winter move based in part on this recent article.
Beating Back the Winter Blues
Depression associated with social isolation and loneliness is common among older adults in the cold winter months, according to a study from McMaster University. Seniors living in a community setting have more opportunities for social companionship and forming new friendships with people of a similar age. Moving into retirement living can help to prevent or overcome the winter blues, since the evidence shows social connection is the strongest protective factor against depression, reported a 2020 study in The American Journal of Psychiatry.
Safeguard against icy slips and falls
Snow-covered and icy sidewalks and stairs are slip and fall hazardous for seniors with balance or mobility issues. Falling on ice is the leading cause of winter injuries. Seniors who live in a community setting don’t have to deal with icy walking or driving conditions to shop for groceries or other errands, and outdoor walking paths are well-maintained through the winter months.
Protect against cold weather health risks
Older adults lose body heat faster and a big chill can quickly turn into dangerous hypothermia, according to the National Institute on Aging. Seniors are especially at risk when winter storms and power outages hit through exposure to freezing temperatures with the added worry of a possible fall in the dark. Living in a senior residence, there is peace of mind that in bad weather there is always someone with you, an abundance of food and other supplies, as well as helpful staff who can clear up snow after a storm.
Keep mentally and physically active
Freezing temperatures, snow and ice can make it difficult for older adults to participate in many scheduled activities in the community. Retirement residences offer many engaging activities, from dancing, yoga, and book clubs to game nights, wine-tasting classes and live music. The Brookhouse Home is no exception in that we have a full-time activities director named Marsha DeCesare and our residents take part in book club, exercise class, brain games, and other daily activities like chair yoga, Tai Chi, meditation and stretching.
Staying socially connected is important
Winter is the time of year when elders living alone tend to disconnect socially, but in places like the Brookhouse Home in particular we tend to have more holidays to celebrate and winter including Thanksgiving followed by decorating the home with lights for Christmas and Hannukah. We also tend to focus on occasions like birthdays and/or Valentine’s Day or St. Patrick’s Day when we can lighten the mood and offer special meals and desserts to coincide with the holiday. Other ways we stay connected as a home is through our discussions
Enjoy fresh, hot meals
About one-third of seniors are at risk of poor nutrition and winter can make it difficult to visit grocery stores regularly and access fresh ingredients, according to McMaster University. Retirement living offers older adults a wide range of tasty, nutritious, and balanced meals that can be enjoyed while dining with friends. Our chef Dennis Cox is amazing and our dining room is cheerful, relaxed and convivial.
No snow shoveling or winter home maintenance
Winter brings with it the added responsibilities, risks and costs of dealing with furnace maintenance and potential frozen pipes, shoveling driveways and walkways, and keeping decks and eavestroughs clear of ice and winter debris.
Access to transportation services
Many residences have their own shuttle buses for medical appointments and outings, so you don’t have to drive yourself or ask someone to take you in poor weather conditions. The Brookhouse Home works closely with the Salem Council on Aging for transportation. Salem is also fortunate to have a service called Salem Skipper, a ride sharing service serving the entire city. It works like a minibus that comes when you want, where you want — book a ride straight from your phone, get picked up in minutes, and skip the hassle of parking. The price is $1.00 for seniors to travel wherever they need to around the city.