As the cold weather draws in, staying warm and staying healthy becomes increasingly challenging. Older adults are particularly at risk of developing health problems and injuries related to cold weather and low temperatures. Its always best to be prepared so here are some top tips and precautions recommended to keep you safe during the winter months.
- Check all heating appliances are functioning properly- get your heating system serviced yearly to make sure its running safely and efficiently.
- Ensure you are getting all the financial support you are entitled to. Age UK offer a free benefits calculator, click here
- Keep extra food in cupboards, freezer etc. To avoid going out unneccessarily consider online food shopping or having a carer that can provide shopping assistance
- Get your seasonal flu jab- aged over 65 or for those with certain health conditions this could be free.
Hypothermia occurs when the body temperature falls to a dangerous level. Being outside in the cold, or even being in a very cold house can lead to hypothermia. To reduce your risk of hypothermia you should;
- Stay indoors as much as possible
- Keep household temperatures above 18C
- Layer clothing and wrap up if going outside
- Stay dry, wet clothing chills the body faster
Avoiding slips and falls
- Clear away snow and salt walkways
- Wear non-skid soled shoes, remove shoes as soon as you get inside as ice or snow attached to soles of shoes can melt and make floors wet and slippery
- Make sure steps and walkways are kept clear
- Replace cane tips before worn smooth.
- Consider fitting grab rails if you have outside steps to front or back door.
Prevent Carbon Monoxide poisoning
Using fires and additional heating sources poses risks of carbon monoxide poisoning if they are not cleaned, vented or used correctly. Some precautionary measures to take would be:
- Have all chimneys and Flues inspected
- Ensure smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are in areas where you are using fireplaces, wood stoves or heaters and test batteries are working
- Open a window, even a small amount will provide some ventilation
Maintaining good Mental Health
Cold weather can mean that older seniors become isolated and withdrawn from society as they spend more time indoors. Help improve mental health by:
- Keeping to usual routines as much as possible
- Spend time engaging with other people, if not in person speak on the phone or videocall.
- Attend groups or local community events. To find out about local activities ask at your local community centre, library or search online
During the winter months it can be a good idea to have a carer visit daily. They can help with getting shopping, ensuring that your home is heated correctly and preparing a nice hot meal. They are also good for reducing feelings of isolation as you can be sure to have a daily chat over a cup of tea and enjoy the company of having someone around.
Additional sources of information:
Winter Fuel Payment – https://www.gov.uk/winter-fuel-payment
Cold weather payment – https://www.gov.uk/cold-weather-payment
Warm Home Discount Scheme – https://www.gov.uk/the-warm-home-discount-scheme