Spending time outside of the house can be enormously beneficial to our wellbeing and especially for older people who may spend a greater proportion of their time indoors.
Firstly, if you or your loved one has been called for a flu jab, it is important that they get one. This goes for yourself too! If you know they have had the correspondence and not yet had the jab, give us (the office) a call and we can talk to the family about getting this arranged. It may be that it is yourself as their caregiver that takes them to the appointment, however, the family need to be informed and all parties need to give consent.
Once they have been vaccinated and yourself as their caregiver, this can protect them from catching any nasties whilst you enjoy the outdoors in those colder months. Many pharmacies now provide this service, so no more queuing at the doctors needed.
For the older person you are caring for, they will feel the cold more than you do. As we age, we lose the heat within our bodies at a faster rate and hypothermia can be an issue without many warning signs either. Therefore, it is important to have layers, and cover as much skin as possible including their head and hands. Hats, scarfs, and gloves are fab, whilst layers such as vests, t-shirts, shirts, jumpers and coats are great altogether for retaining heat, even if it is above freezing, these layers are important.
According to the NHS, some subtle warnings signs for hypothermia include, slower or slurred speech, sleepiness, confusion, pale, cold or dry skin, slower breathing rate and weakened pulse. We know shivering is a less subtle sign, so it is important to have an idea of what else to be looking for just in case.
Colder conditions equal more hazards, however, a lot of these can be prevented with some good shoes and travelling slower than usual. Even if you are wrapping up to go and sit in the garden with a cuppa, having good shoes is important for those few steps outside. If the elderly person that you are caring for doesn’t have good shoes, let us know and we can discuss with the family if needed.
Allow extra time for those trips outside, walking more gently, slowly is important to allow for good footing. Winter falls are most likely to happy when people are rushing around, allow that time, take it steady together and they may even benefit from a trekking style walking stick for additional support. You can also get grippers for the bottoms of your shoes; they just go over the shoe so can be removed when the weather improves.
Plan Your Route
If you plan to go a distance, plan the route. Check the weather forecast. Look for good paths, gritted areas, perhaps even drive to a good location for walking, places that are known to have good accessible walks and places to sit and rest. You may want to take a flask of tea or enjoy a cup of tea at a café nearby for a warmup and rest break. Places like ferry meadows and flag fen are good locations with good paths and cafes, other places to visit that could be good are Peterborough’s park’s and nature reserves, Peterborough’s museum, and Railworld Wildlife Haven.
Visiting The Past
If you have an older client with dementia, stimulating their memories can be an enjoyable experience for all. Some of the places mentioned above can be a great way to start a conversation about their past, they may remember visiting these places in their childhood. Listen, engage, and offer space for them to reminisce. Sing songs from their past or play music on your phone for them that they know. This is known to trigger great memories and can create great conversation topics too.
When To Stay Indoors
If bad weather is forecasted, you may need to explain and offer alternatives for keeping them moving and entertainment. Check they have everything they need through the bad weather, such as food, torches, medications, so they are not tempted to try and leave their home. Keeping emergency numbers handy such as 105 on their mobile phone if they experience a power cut, they can offer advice and information to them. Walking around the home, playing board games and music are great alternatives.
Getting outside in Autumn and early Winter is great, as long as we wrap up warm and stick to main paths. It is great to see the change in seasons, the colour of the leaves changing in autumn, it can really spark something within us. Even if the older person you are caring for has limited mobility, they may enjoy sitting in their garden with a nice cuppa and a chit chat with you, all snuggly and wrapped up with layers and a blanket.