As winter approaches, older Australians need to take extra care to prepare themselves for the colder months ahead, especially with the increased prevalence of flu and pneumonia during this time. It is important to be proactive and take steps to protect your health and well-being during the winter months,

Here are our top 10 tips to help you prepare for winter:

  1. Get a flu shot

Flu is a serious risk to older people, especially during winter. Getting a flu shot is one of the most effective ways to protect against influenza. In Australia, the flu season typically runs from June to September, so it is important to get vaccinated before the start of winter. The flu shot is free for people over 65 years of age, as well as for younger people with certain medical conditions, such as asthma or diabetes.

  1. Keep warm

As we age, our body’s ability to maintain a steady temperature decreases, making us more vulnerable to changes in temperature as we lose body heat faster which can make us more susceptible to conditions such as hypothermia. As such, it’s important to keep warm during the winter months, both inside and out of the house. The best way to do this is by wearing warm clothing, particularly layers, wearing socks and slippers as well as using a blanket if you spend a large amount of time seated. Ensuring that your home is properly heated is vital, as is wearing coats, hats, scarves and gloves when you leave the house.

  1. Maintain a balanced diet

Eating a healthy diet is essential for maintaining good health and preventing illness. In the winter months, it’s important to eat a diet that includes plenty of fruit, vegetables, and whole grains, which are high in vitamins and minerals that boost immunity. Eating foods that are high in protein, such as lean meats, fish, and legumes, can also help keep your energy levels up during the colder months. It is also important that you consume enough calories during the winter months to maintain your levels of body fat which help to keep you warm. Having hot meals such as porridge/oatmeal and soup can also help you to feel warmer.

  1. Stay hydrated

Staying hydrated is important for maintaining good health and preventing illness. During the winter months, it can be easy to forget to drink enough water, but it’s important to stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water, herbal tea, and other non-caffeinated beverages can help keep you hydrated.

  1. Get up and about as much as possible

Exercise is crucial for maintaining physical health, especially during the winter months when it can be tempting to stay indoors. You can stay active by participating in indoor activities such as yoga, seated exercise or swimming. It is important to stay active throughout the day to maintain good circulation so try to get up and move around the house every hour or so.

  1. Sleep well

Getting enough sleep is essential for overall health and well-being. Throughout winter, it’s important to ensure you get enough sleep, as lack of sleep can weaken your immune system and make you more vulnerable to illness. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night and try to maintain a regular sleep routine.

  1. Get outdoors and enjoy the sunshine

During winter, the days are shorter and the sunlight is less intense, which can lead to a vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D, which is essential for bone health and immune function, can be boosted by spending time outside during the day when there’s a bit of sunshine, even if it is just for a few minutes. You may be able to take vitamin D supplements to complement this, but make sure you speak with your healthcare professional about doing so beforehand.

  1. Take care of your mental health

Winter can be a challenging time for mental health, especially for those who may be dealing with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression that occurs during the colder months due to reduced sunlight. Be sure to prioritise your mental health by practising self-care activities such as reading, listening to music, or taking a relaxing bath. If you find yourself experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety, speak with your GP as soon as possible.

  1. Stay connected

The winter months can be lonely and isolating, especially for those who may not be able to get out and about as much. However, staying connected with family and friends is important for mental health and well-being. You can do this by utilising technology such as video calls, social media, or email to stay in regular contact. Alternatively, getting involved in community events or joining a social group to meet new people can be beneficial and transport services are available in the community to help facilitate this.

  1. Arrange professional in-home care

If you are feeling lonely during the winter months, companionship services can help and may be able to take you to appointments, shopping and to your social activities. Home Instead provides in-home care to help you to maintain your independence in your own home. We provide services such as home help including cleaning, changing sheets and meal preparation, as well as providing other services such as transport, personal care and specialist dementia care.