How to Stay Warm and Healthy Over Winter With a Disability

How to Stay Warm and Healthy Over Winter With a Disability

It may have been a warmer start to our winter this year. But the cold, snow, and icy weather are beginning to catch up with the mountains of western North Carolina. 

While freezing temperatures, icy roads, and germs are a risk for everyone, if you are elderly or disabled, you are at a greater risk of adverse health outcomes. Here are some tips for staying warm and healthy.


How to Stay Warm and Healthy Over Winter With a Disability

Keeping warm and healthy over the colder winter months is essential to having a great start to the rest of the year. Not much of your day-to-day will change just because it is cold outside, but paying closer attention to a few things can keep you safe and healthy.

  • Dress appropriately for the weather and your comfort.
  • Keep up your good healthy habits.
  • Avoid crowded areas and sick individuals as much as possible.
  • Be aware and prepared for inclement weather.
  • Prepare for traveling in winter conditions.

Bundle Up Outside

Layers are essential to staying comfortable and healthy this winter. Keep layers lightweight so you can easily remove them if you start to overheat. But look for quick drying natural fiber fabrics. Items made from wool can keep you warm even if exposed to moisture like snow or rain.

When adventuring outside, make sure to have hats, scarves, and gloves prepared to protect your extremities. These areas will lose heat faster than the rest of your body when exposed to frigid temperatures. If you find your feet or hands tend to get very cold, consider hand or boot warmers for when you will be outside for prolonged periods.

Investing in a good pair of thermal driving gloves can help keep your hands warm and be thin and grippy enough at the fingertips to prevent your hands from slipping on a wheelchair or walker grip. Just like your hands, make sure your feet have the proper grip as well. Snowboots can provide an extra bit of grip and insulation over regular shoes, while keeping your feet dry.

Stay Comfortable Inside

Just as important as bundling up when we go outside into the frigid winter air, staying warm and comfortable indoors, where we spend most of our time, is even more vital. 

Lightweight pajamas made of silk can help keep you warmer in winter without sacrificing maneuverability. And cotton clothing, while not the best for heading outdoors into lousy weather, can be an excellent choice for a light indoor layer.

If you couldn’t tell already, layers are everything in the winter. Instead of having one heavy blanket, go for a few lighter layers that more efficiently trap heat while allowing you to turn and move in and out of bed easily.

Maintain Your Healthy Habits

It can be tempting to relax in winter, but maintaining healthy habits like diet and physical activity are essential to maintaining a healthy body and preventing new infections. When severe winter weather blocks the roads and you can’t make it to an appointment, make sure to reschedule. If it was for physiotherapy, ask your doctor or therapist what you can do at home to keep on track.

When outside in the snow, make sure to wear sunscreen. And to help prevent the dry skin that cold winter air brings, stay hydrated and use petroleum jelly to keep exposed skin moisturized and insulated.

Avoid Germs

This might seem a bit obvious, as no one wants to get sick. But doing your best to avoid situations where you can come into contact with someone who has a cold can keep you fit and healthy. Cold weather pushes most people inside for gatherings, increasing the rate and prevalence of the spread of the common cold, flu, and other viruses.

Try to avoid large indoor gatherings or tightly enclosed spaces like public transport. If you and a few close friends plan to spend time together, check in before heading out to make sure everyone is well. 

Be Weather Aware

Not getting caught unaware by severe weather in the winter is the best preparation you can make. While forecasts will never be 100% accurate, stay on top of what the news says your area is in store for. National forecasting is pretty good, but find a local meteorologist who you trust and be sure to follow them on social media to get up-to-date notifications as weather moves into your area.

When a forecast looks particularly bad, make sure to prepare for it ahead of time. Have the essentials to keep you warm and healthy at home, so you don’t have to risk travel if you don’t have to. 

Food, water, warm clothes, and fuel for a generator or a non-electric fireplace are a good start. Also, remember prescriptions and battery backups for medical supplies.

Try to keep a three-day supply of items for yourself and others living with you. Three days will generally get you through the worst of a winter storm in this area. It is also good to have a friend or neighbor whom you trust to check in on you if the weather gets extreme, or know the contact for a community social services center. 

Prepare for Winter Travel

If you find yourself traveling, bundle up and have your method of transport prepared for cold weather. Have any vehicles or wheelchairs serviced for use in winter conditions. 

Keep an emergency winter kit in your car to help if you get stranded. It should be a mini version of what you plan to keep at home for bad weather: food, water, warm blankets, and any vital medicines at the very least.

If you rely on a wheelchair, walker, or cane to get around, consider swapping out for snow tires or ice-specific attachments that can lend an extra bit of grip. Know the area you’ll be traveling around and if it has any trouble spots. Keep a cell phone handy in case of an emergency, and make sure someone always knows where you are going.

Loyal Lifts

You don’t have to brave traveling alone this winter. Look for a local transportation company to fit your needs and get you where you need to go, safely and comfortably.

Loyal Lifts has been serving Asheville, NC, since 2017. Whether you need to get to a doctor's appointment, a birthday party, or the grocery store, we can get you there. Our wheelchair-accessible transportation is dependable, convenient, and safe. 

Check our calendar for availability and contact us to set up your ride today.