Some Ideas to Make Your Home Brighter (and Safer) for Winter

by Bruce Montgomery Ph.D. September 14, 2016

Some Ideas to Make Your Home Brighter (and Safer) for Winter

 

Labor Day has come and gone. Children are back in school. Football has begun in earnest. And if you live above the Mason-Dixon line, you know that in a short while, “real” winter will be on its way.

I love winter. But I also know that with fewer hours of daylight and weather that can be less inviting for outdoor activities, I get a bit stir crazy around March.

During the beautiful months of September and October, there are a number of things that seniors can do inside and outside of your home to make winter more appealing.

Remember the story of the Ant and the Grasshopper? (Source: University of Massachusetts Amherst, http://www.umass.edu/aesop/content.php?i=1&n=0)

In a field one summer's day a Grasshopper was hopping about, chirping and singing to its heart's content. An Ant passed by, bearing along with great toil an ear of corn he was taking to the nest.

"Why not come and chat with me," said the Grasshopper, "instead of toiling and moiling in that way?"

"I am helping to lay up food for the winter," said the Ant, "and recommend you to do the same."

"Why bother about winter?" said the Grasshopper; we have got plenty of food at present." But the Ant went on its way and continued its toil.

When the winter came the Grasshopper found itself dying of hunger, while it saw the ants distributing, every day, corn and grain from the stores they had collected in the summer.

I like to think of myself as more like the ant than the grasshopper. Here are some things that I do to prepare for winter:

  • Plan at least one mid-winter trip. I set a budget and then search travel guides, talk to friends about their mid-winter destinations and visualize myself on a beach in February. Just the planning of a get-away will provide excitement and anticipation of a mid-winter adventure.
    • If your finances or health make a long-distance get-away undesirable, then consider a short trip to a nearby city with museums, sports events and fine dining. If your budget is strict, you might know friends or relatives who would love to host you for a winter visit.
  • Get ready for exercise during the winter. We can actually be more active in the winter if we allow ourselves.
    • I have equipped a small room with a TRX and a rowing machine. I have downloaded exercises onto my computer and developed a daily log of what exercises I will do and when.
    • I will be joining the local gym soon to take advantage of their wide array of exercise equipment, classes and of course the pool. There is nothing more refreshing to swim on days when the temperatures drop below freezing. Look into senior aquatic aerobics classes that may be offered at your local community center for free!
    • Convert your summer hikes into winter snow shoeing treks. It’s great exercise and gets you out into the refreshing and often beautiful winter air. And in many places, you can still hike in the winter without snow shoes.
    • Equip yourself with the right snow removal equipment. If you like to mow the lawn, then you will love shoveling or blowing the snow--but consider a snow blower as you will most definitely be preventing falls with this helpful machine!
    • Remember--consult your physician to be sure you are healthy enough for certain of these activities.
  • Let there be light Our other blogs have discussed the safety and mood reasons for improving the lighting in your home, especially for senior safey. So change those light bulbs or add new light fixtures that work best for battling the winter blues. Install dimmers so that you can change the intensity of the light depending upon the time of day and the way you feel.
  • Consider painting some of your rooms to freshen their appearance. A March 2016 article in Country Living magazine, “The Powerful Ways Color Can Alter Your Mind,” can help provide some direction about what wall colors might work best for different rooms in your home.
  • Eat right – year-round. Winter can prompt bad eating habits. Remember your fruits and vegetables especially during winter when you are apt to receive less of the suns nutrients. Although grocery stores offer just about any fruit or vegetable any time of the year, I like to get local produce when it is in season and can or freeze it. Corn, green beans, asparagus, and all kinds of berries are a great treat to pull from your own shelves or freezer in mid-winter. Consider purchasing a food vacuum sealer to maintain frozen food taste and freshness.
  • Prepare for your mid-winter indoor hobbies (see our blog on hobbies as we age). Get ready for winter by looking for deals on puzzles, books, and knitting supplies. These and many other activities will keep your mind busy and happy.
  • Do-it-yourself projects before it snows. The August 30, 2016 edition of Popular Mechanics offers “25 DIY Projects to Tackle Before Summer Ends.” Many of these projects require some level of craftsmanship – but some may appeal to you. Others are maintenance ideas – such as clearing your gutters, cleaning your deck, repairing screens and inspecting your fireplace and chimney – which we have also mentioned in our blogs. A couple of other projects that we suggest include: washing your windows, setting up bird feeders, inspecting and hanging outside holiday decorations, having your roof cleaned, and painting your house or deck – especially where wood is exposed.

Fall is often a beautiful time of the year. And it is largely unpredictable. Where I live in Michigan, we often see the first snow around Halloween. Some years, however, winter waits to bring us the white stuff until Thanksgiving or later.

Since we have no control over the weather, let’s get going on preparing for winter in September and October. We can take advantage of unseasonable weather in November or December but wouldn’t you rather be hanging your holiday decorations on a dry October day? You can wait to turn on the lights until after Thanksgiving, but you will have them up and ready for the grandkids.

Let’s be ants. It’s safer, healthier and provides a wonderful sense of accomplishment and peace of mind.

 

 




Bruce Montgomery Ph.D.
Bruce Montgomery Ph.D.

Author

Dr. Bruce Montgomery is a licensed building contractor in Michigan and Florida. He is a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist as designated by the National Association of Home Builders. He has also achieved an Executive Certificate in Home Modification from the University of Southern California. He has a wide ranging educational background, including a Master of Science degree in Entomology, with a Master of Science degree in Forestry and a Ph.D. in educational administration.