Winter Health Tips For Our Loved Ones
The harsh winter conditions, such as the ones we have seen recently, present many challenges for the older adults in our community. If you are a Care Professional trying to support your client or are simply concerned about an older adult in your life, below we have provided some guidance on how to support these individuals who are more vulnerable at this time of year.
Winter Weather Warning
Considering Storm Isha and the weather warnings issued across the country, we ask that you pay extra notice to the impact of the weather. From the intense winds to the recent cold freeze, these adverse weather conditions can present potentially dangerous situations for our elderly loved ones. Whilst the council is trying to make our pavements safe, the streets of Epsom may still be potentially dangerous due to icy surfaces or fallen branches. Recent BBC weather forecasts show that these conditions are expected to continue.
Dealing with the Cold
Many older adults live in older properties that can be difficult to heat, or you might find that the elderly are reluctant to turn on the heat if they’re worrying about expensive bills. These tips will help keep everyone safe and warm when cold weather approaches.
- Layer Up. When we’re trying to avoid turning on the heating, the best way to stay warm is to put on extra layers. It’s surprising how even extra socks or a blanket over your knees can help keep the heat in. Be mindful of garments with fiddly buttons that some might find tricky to remove. Hats and gloves can be worn inside as well as outside if the weather is particularly chilly.
- A Warm Cuppa. One way to warm up fast is to enjoy a hot drink. Offer decaffeinated drinks if they are consuming several cups a day, or try something different, like a warm, fruity cordial or some soothing herbal tea.
- Localised Heating. While heating the whole house feels redundant for just one person, you can help our loved ones stay warm by making a hot water bottle to cuddle up with on the sofa. Closing internal doors is a good way to keep the heat in if there are rooms they use more than others, and you can always alter the heat output on the radiators just to heat the rooms they use.
Out and About
It can be tempting to batten down the hatches and stay home when the weather is miserable, but there are multiple benefits to getting outside in all appropriate weather conditions. From fresh air and exercise to improving mental health, older adults should be supported in making connections with the outside world throughout the winter.
- The Ten-Minute Walk. If the weather is good enough for a quick walk outside, take the opportunity to do so. Even if you’re only pottering together in the garden for ten minutes or nipping down to the Ashley Centre, those are ten minutes of good exercise and fresh air, as well as the time spent putting on warm shoes, coat, scarf etc… (all providing gentle stretches and exertion that they wouldn’t get from just sitting on the sofa). After a bracing walk, coming back to a nice cup of tea and a sit down will feel all the more satisfying!
- New Experiences. We all know that feeling of wanting to hunker down in the winter, but getting out of the house will give our older loved ones a chance to have richer day-to-day experiences. In a quick walk around the town, they might bump into an old friend they haven’t seen for months and enjoy a nice chat or catch a glimpse of the first snowdrops of the year by the pond in Roseberry Park. It can feel like a lot of effort, but putting the time into going outside is almost always worth it.
- Local outings. Whilst we all enjoy being outdoors, we recommend that you steer clear of areas such as Roseberry and Alexandra Park to avoid the risks of falling trees. Instead, head into town to enjoy a warm drink in one of Epsom’s many coffee shops.
Finally, some important things to bear in mind when considering the health of older adults in the winter.
- Mental Health. Staying warm is important, but our mental health can take a knock in the wintertime, too. If older adults are stuck indoors and reluctant to get out and about, they can lose social connections and a sense of routine. If going out isn’t an option, it’s good to encourage those to make an appropriate indoor routine to help their mental health, such as scheduling phone calls with friends and family or taking up new indoor activities like scrapbooking, chess, or painting.
- Winter Fuel Payment Grant. Those born before 25 September 1957 could get between £250 and £600 to help them pay their heating bills. This is well worth looking into for your older loved ones who are feeling the cold.
- During the winter, it is recommended to keep our homes at a temperature of at least 18°C. For those with health conditions or the elderly who might feel the cold more, setting the thermostat a little higher might be more appropriate.
Looking after older loved ones has different challenges at different times of the year, but there are many ways to overcome the obstacles that the winter can pose. Find ways to keep the elderly comfortable and content, whatever the weather.
At Home Instead, Epsom, our client’s well-being is our utmost priority; during these times, we remind our care professionals of the dangers of this weather and, therefore, the suitable precautions to take when delivering outstanding care. Contact us today at 01372 741544