The ice, snow and cold temperatures of winter can make life challenging for anyone.  Cold weather and slippery sidewalks can cause a wide range of injuries and illnesses, especially for seniors.

The healing process takes longer as we get older. Severe winter injuries create complications in people over 65 that can even be a cause of death. Take a look at these four tips for preventing common cold-weather dangers to seniors.

Avoid slipping on ice

Snowy, icy sidewalks make slipping and falling a common occurrence for senior citizens.  Often, these falls lead to major injuries such as hip and wrist fractures, head trauma and major lacerations.

Make sure to wear shoes with non-skid soles and good traction.  If you use a cane, replace the tip to make walking easier.  And, remove your shoes when you return indoors because melting snow can lead to slippery conditions inside the home.

Dress for Warmth

Cold temperatures can lead to frostbite and hypothermia.  The Center for Disease Control reports that more than half of hypothermia-related deaths were of people over the age of 65.

Don’t let indoor temperatures drop too low and wear layers.  When you go outside – wear warm socks, a heavy coat, a warm hat, gloves and a scarf.  When it’s really cold, be sure to cover any exposed skin.  And use a scarf to cover your mouth and protect your lungs.

Battle wintertime depression

Mobility is a much bigger challenge in winter than summer. This can lead to isolation for seniors, which in turn brings feelings of loneliness.  To help avoid these issues, it is important that family members check on seniors often.  A brief daily phone call is a good first wave of defense to prevent an elder from feeling alone and depressed.  You can also arrange with other elderly neighbors to check up on each other for mutual benefit.

Eat a varied diet

People spend more time indoors and will often refrain from grocery shopping during cold winter days.  This can lead to eating a more limited variety of foods.  The resulting nutritional deficiency, especially from Vitamin D, can be a problem.  Resolve this issue by regularly consuming foods that are fortified with Vitamin D, such as milk, grains and seafood options like tuna and salmon.

Winter poses challenges for the elderly, but with a little proactive behavior, you can ensure that you get through the cold season unscathed.