In the dead of winter, there are myriad issues home health care workers may find themselves struggling with. Dangerous driving conditions, power outages, and winter storms make traveling more of a challenge. Darker days and chilly weather make it less possible to get outside and socialize often, which can lead to feelings of isolation or depression. With viruses and other illnesses prevalent during winter, it is vital to stay healthy, especially when dealing with clients who have a weakened immune system. Preparing ahead can make a world of difference, which is why we put together the list of tips below to help you get through this winter season!
1. Prepare Your Vehicle
Before driving anywhere, it is important to remove all the ice and snow from your car. This includes ensuring that all windows, mirrors, and lights are clear. Give yourself extra time before and during travel to ensure a safe trip and always have the following items handy:
- Ice melt
- Snow shovel
- Windshield washer fluid
- Ice scraper
- A blanket or sleeping bag (in case of breaking down)
2. Stay Healthy
Ideally, your diet will supply your body with all necessary nutrients; but in reality, getting the proper nutrients on a daily basis is not easy. When it comes to supporting a healthy immune system, staying warm, and fighting the winter blues, supplements can make a big difference.
Look into taking a multivitamin daily, and make sure it has a higher vitamin D content as about 42% of the US population have a vitamin D deficiency. (**Talk to your physician before incorporating any supplements into your diet.)
It’s easy to forget the importance of daily water intake due to colder weather, which can lead to dehydration. Incorporate hydration breaks into your day in order to maintain sufficient fluid intake. Have a glass of water before your cup of coffee and/or before or after performing specific activities/tasks throughout the day, so you establish a routine.
Heating systems are known for taking moisture from the air, leaving many people with dry skin, chapped lips, or aggravated respiratory problems. For those seeking relief, consider utilizing a humidifier in commonly used rooms, and especially when sleeping. Check out this article by Wirecutter for guidance on which model/brand of humidifier to buy and where to purchase the one for your needs.
3. Fight Off Germs
In the midst of cold and flu season during a worldwide pandemic, it’s more important than ever to be conscious of your hygiene and habits. Make sure to:
- Carry hand sanitizer.
- Wash your hands frequently.
- Avoid touching your face.
- Keep your mask on properly when around clients and in public places and make sure to always carry an extra mask.
- Frequently wipe down common surfaces or frequently used objects.
- Don’t share your food or personal items.
4. Prevent injury
Cold weather and winter storms can cause a variety of injuries. Be aware of your surroundings and plan ahead by making sure to:
- Wear shoes with good traction.
- Watch out for large icicles.
- Clean off the top of your vehicle after a snowstorm. Snow flying off a car’s roof can be dangerous to the driver behind you.
- Allow more time for everything. You’re much more likely to slip and fall when in a rush.
5. Fight off the Winter Blues
It’s very common to experience an increasingly glum outlook throughout the winter months. Limited social interaction, fresh air, and cold weather can lead to feelings of loneliness, isolation, and depression for everyone. To combat this, ensure you’re creating time for self-care and social connection. Think about setting up a weekly call, game night, or book club with friends or family!