Laura Newland, executive director, DC Office of Aging and Community Living

Happy New Year! Thanks to everyone who joined us for the many holiday celebrations throughout the city last month, and especially the Mayor’s Annual Senior Holiday Celebration at the DC Armory! We had a great time celebrating with you—and celebrating YOU!

If you missed it, I hope you’ll plan to join us for the many activities and events we have planned in 2019. Every year we look forward to bigger and better ways to engage with you out in the community. Stay connected with my office in the coming months to learn more about opportunities to get active with the DC Office on Aging. Sign up for our monthly e-newsletter by calling 202-724-5626 or emailing us at

This is especially important during the winter months. With shorter, colder days and wintery weather, we’ll be spending more time indoors. And with good reason—colder temperatures can be dangerous and pose some serious health challenges as you age. Here are some safety tips to help get us all through these colder months.

On cold days, avoid strenuous outdoor activities. Freezing temperatures can put increased strain on your heart—which is especially dangerous for residents over the age of 65 who already have a heart condition. If you need to work outside, remember to dress in layers of dry clothing, wear a windproof outer layer, a hat, and gloves. Pay attention to your body temperature and take frequent breaks to go inside to warm up.

After a snow event, residents over the age of 60 who are homeowners can qualify to receive assistance shoveling snow from their walkway. Serve DC’s  Volunteer Snow Program is a free service that matches DC seniors with volunteers to shovel their walkways after a snow event. To learn more about the program, or to get on the list to be matched with a volunteer, call 202-727-7925.

During very cold days, stay indoors in a heated space as much as possible. To help your body warm itself, the CDC recommends eating balanced meals, warm drinks, and broth, and avoiding alcohol. Remember that it’s never safe to warm your home using your oven! You may be putting yourself and your household at risk of fire, serious injuries, and carbon monoxide poisoning. If your heating system isn’t working in your rental apartment building, contact your property management office. If you don’t receive a response, dial 311 for assistance.

During the winter months, we also need to vigilant in protecting our mental health. Too many days indoors, without exercise coupled with less exposure to sunlight and vitamin D, can leave us feeling a little down. It’s just as important to schedule some activities that will get us moving and socializing. I encourage you to stop by one of our six Senior Wellness Centers or a Department of Parks and Recreation sites near you and get involved with some of the winter programming to keep you active and connected. Call my office at 202-724-5626 to locate a site near you.

Remember these colder months can be particularly isolating for the frail and seniors who live alone. Take some time to connect with your neighbors and friends and check-in with each other. If you’re interested in learning more about staying safe, active, and healthy during the winter months—or if you’re just looking to talk to someone—DCOA is here for you. Reach out to us at 202-724-5626.

Wishing you all a safe and prosperous 2019!

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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