By Joy Pape, FNP-C CDE CILC
Since it is still winter, I have listed my favorite tips to ensure a safe season during the cold months.
Retain Moisture. Winter air is dry and, as we age, many parts of our bodies get drier. The winter air, combined with heat, can make things worse. Be aware of your eyes, mouth, and skin. If your eyes feel dry, itchy, or watery, you may have dry eye. Try over-the-counter eye drops and discuss different options with your pharmacist. Avoid those that treat red-eye as they have more of a drying effect. Use the eye drops regularly, especially at bedtime and if you wake up in the middle of the night with dry, itchy eyes. If these don’t work, talk with your practitioner about other treatments. Your mouth may be dry from mouth breathing or not drinking enough water. You may not realize you are thirsty, which can cause many problems, such as infections, dental issues, weakness, dizziness, and falls. There is no magic answer as to how much you should drink, but here are a few suggestions. Drink before you get thirsty. Fill at least four eight-ounce glasses of water daily and drink or sip these throughout the day. If you have heart disease, ask your practitioner about any limitations. If your skin is dry, it can be uncomfortable, as well as crack, and even cause open sores. Apply a moisturizer when your skin is still moist after washing to lock in the moisture. Put socks on after you moisturize your feet.
Stay Warm. Dress in layers, use blankets, wear socks, and apply hot water bottles to stay warm and not get burned. Electric blankets, heating pads, and electric heaters can burn your skin and are fire hazards.
Look Down. Look down occasionally when walking in your home or outside. Watch out for anything that can get in your way and cause you to trip and fall. Get rid of throw rugs. Also, socks can be slippery so wear non-skid socks or shoes over your socks. When outside, look down and avoid any visible patches of ice, steps, curbs, or anything that may obstruct your path and cause you to fall.
Connect. You may not get out much during the winter but don’t spend the winter months alone. Maintain contact with people by phone or through the internet. Keep a phone, either a landline or cellular connection, near you at all times and use it. Keep up with what’s happening in the world and in your community. Watch TV and read the news, especially WestView News!
Joy Pape is an internationally regarded Board Certified Family Nurse Practitioner, author, writer, and presenter. She believes that every person deserves personalized and integrative medical care and hope for a healthy and full life. She can be reached at (212) 933-1756 or firstname.lastname@example.org.