According to the Office for National Statistics every winter in the UK, an older person dies every seven minutes. Winter is definitely here and it is time to start considering the care and support of the elderly people in our lives so that they can remain safe and well during these colder months.
Maintaining body temperature is so important for an older person and is one of the worst risks they face in winter. The elderly need to have a constant body temperature at around 37 degrees and just a two degree drop could lead to hypothermia.
Unfortunately older people are vulnerable to low body temperature for a number of reasons. They may be malnourished, they may not be heating their home sufficiently because they worry about paying for the bills, or they may struggle to care for themselves because of a condition like dementia. It is important to avoid these issues so that they can stay warm.
The cold isn’t the only risk though, older people may face problems with mobility, joint pain, and loneliness. Older people really do need support in winter. Here are a few winter safety tips for the elderly so that you can help keep yourself and your elderly loved ones safe in the colder months:
Book In For A Flu Jab
The flu can be lethal for the elderly, so the flu jab is really important as a precaution come winter. There has been a lower uptake on the flu jab this year than previous years, in part because of supply problems, but don’t let that deter you. It is free for people aged over 65, or for those with certain health conditions. Just speak to your GP or pharmacist for more information.
Staying healthy is really important but especially in winter when your body is under strain and needs to be as strong as possible. Eating hot meals and drinks that are healthy and nutritionally balanced is important. A visit to the GP to check for vitamin or mineral deficiencies could be a good idea to know which nutrients to base meals around. Creating bulk nutritious meals like soup and freezing them in batches is a really good idea so that there is always food available, especially if the weather is really bad outside and you can’t get to the shops. Exercise is also important so you can stay strong and mobile; take a walk around the house even if you cannot get outdoors because of hazardous weather.
Bacteria and germs are so easily caught in winter as more people are inside more of the time. A small bottle of anti-bacterial gel will be very handy when out in public. It also makes sense to use tissues to catch your sneezes and coughs. Also consider asking family and friends to rearrange visits if they have a cold.
Keep a Supply of Medication
Pharmacy opening hours may change during the winter holiday periods, and as the weather can affect whether or not you can get out of the house, staying on top of medication supplies is important. Do stock up on medication as far as it is safe and possible to do so; and don’t leave it until the last minute to restock.
Keep The House Warm
A cold house, especially one with damp, can be lethal when you are an older person. Do look up ways to get help with heating bills if the cost is concerning you. Also stock up on blankets, hot water bottles and warm clothes to wear indoors. It is also important that you have at least one room that remains heated so you know you can find warmth in at least one place in your home.
Prepare For The Weather When You Go Outdoors
It is so important that you layer up and prepare for the weather when you go outdoors. If there is ice or snow, take routes that are gritted, check weather reports before you leave the house, and wear sturdy footwear. Take every precaution against slips and falls at this time of year.
Seek Help When You Need It
If you are struggling this winter, please reach out for help. Your GP, pharmacist and any health care workers can help you or at least point you in the right direction if you need support. Your friends and family will be more than happy to help you with any struggles you have but you need to make them aware of your problems. Neighbours can also be a great source of help if you need it as they are always nearby.
If you need more dedicated help on a day-to-day basis, you may wish to consider home care services or a live-in carer. A live-in care agency can provide you with a live-in carer who can help you in winter, and throughout the rest of the year. The costs compare favourably with care homes and yet provide all the same services and more for people unable to care for themselves.