Be aware of ice. With a few simple adjustments, you can dramatically reduce your chance for falls. When you venture out as the mercury drops, stay alert for hard-to-see patches of ice on sidewalks and parking lots. Go slow, and if you’re using a cane, use it to explore before stepping off curbs and ramps. In fact, a new cane tip can be one of your first lines of defense. Shoes with non-slip soles and high traction bottoms should go without saying, but do you take them off as soon as you’re in the house? You should, so snow and ice remnants don’t melt and create new hazards.
Prepare for power outages. The Boy Scouts have it right – be ready for anything. This is especially important with winter’s dropping temperatures and blustery weather conditions. Make sure candles and flashlights are on hand – and that the latter have fresh batteries. Speaking of, lay in a supply of batteries in all sizes too, so you can power any backup. Invest in a battery powered radio to keep connected if necessary, and consider a NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) weather radio – local TV or radio stations often program them for free, so you have the most up to date info immediately. Also, don’t forget today’s communications – if you have a cell phone, have a portable charger and extra batteries on hand.
Ask for help. Dropping temperatures and potential precipitation create dangerous conditions that may make venturing out alone treacherous. Ice patches on parking lots and sidewalks can be hard to see; gusting winds can quickly snatch or slam doors, doing damage of their own. Doing it yourself isn’t worth a fall – and it may have the opposite effect, sacrificing independence for injury. Whether for rides to doctor’s appointments or the grocery store, or help shoveling or scraping, a quick call can save a winter of suffering.
Keep your chin up. Long, dreary days plus piled on precipitation wear on the youngest, healthiest, most active individuals. So don’t fret if cabin fever sets in quickly thanks to Old Man Winter’s ice blasts. But do make every effort to stave off more serious situations than a bout of the blues. Depression and anxiety are more common than you think, especially when you have less contact and outside activity than normal. Check in regularly with family, and keep in touch with friends. Aim for a daily phone date with someone, and if you have e-mail, that’s great way to stay connected too.