As the winter season of colds and influenza begins, our Clinical Manager Nicky Rijns has developed several handy tips for us to stay well during the year’s coldest months.

Nicky’s first recommendation is to get an annual flu vaccination.

“This is something I urge everyone to do, not just the elderly, so they can remain healthy over winter. We are only a few weeks into cold and flu season and we have already had reports of two deaths in Auckland from influenza. The vaccination is free for people aged over 65, it so I can’t recommend it enough,” she says.

While having a flu vaccination injection, she also recommends being vaccinated to prevent shingles, which can be a huge source of pain and discomfort.

“Approximately one-third of people will get shingles in their lifetime and half will develop it by the time they are 85. While shingles can dissipate on its own, nearly 30% of people experience nerve pain afterwards.

“The vaccine is proven to be effective for those aged 60-69, and protects you for at least five years, so it provides peace of mind,” says Nicky.

Cold temperatures outside can be a risk factor for colds and flu – but sometimes our indoor environments also cause ill health.

“Mould may appear to be relatively harmless but for younger and older people, it can be hazardous,” she says.

“New Zealand is a naturally damp environment, so it is important to stay on top of any mould outbreaks in your home, and especially in your bedroom as extended periods of breathing in mould spores is really bad for asthma and other respiratory issues.

“I recommend cleaning off the mould as soon as it appears, as once it has settled it can be a real pain to remove.”

Once all visible signs of mould are gone, the next step is to prevent its recurrence by minimising moisture in the home.

“There are some really simple steps for removing dampness from their home, such as drying clothes outside, airing out your home for fifteen minutes every day, avoiding overwatering indoor plants and covering boiling pots on your stovetop.”

Our Wellness Centre is a great source of healthcare and advice.

Maintaining mental health is just as crucial as physical wellbeing, and Nicky advises that winter weather shouldn’t stop you from doing the things you love.

“Exercise is great for our mental health as it releases our brain’s ‘happy hormones’, and while we may not always be able to go out for a walk in winter, there are plenty of physical activities we can do in and around the home,” she says.

For those living at Rawhiti Estate, maintaining winter wellness is made easier by design.

“Having a gym and heated pool here on site is great for keeping active even when it is cold outside. And we also enjoy classes such as Tai Chi,” Nicky says.

Nicky runs a weekly Wellness Clinic at Rawhiti Estate – residents can attend at any time and get good ongoing advice about maintaining their winter health.