Are you prepared for the winter?

Now that the clocks have gone back, and the nights are getting darker, we think it’s time to start preparing for the winter.

We can all take simple steps to make sure that our elderly relatives and neighbours are kept warm and well through the cold spells of the winter season.

Dress for the weather

There is definitely a chill in the air at the moment so if you’re heading outside make sure that you have appropriate clothing for the weather.

You might feel like wearing a huge woolly jumper to keep you cosy however wearing several layers of thin clothing is actually much better.  The layers act as insulation and traps warm air inside.  Thermal undergarments such as vests, tights and socks will give you a good base layer as a starting point.

We lose a lot of heat through our head – so wearing a hat is essential to keep us warm. 

When you’re out and about, watch out for slippery surfaces if it’s frosty.  A good pair of shoes or boots with grippy soles are ideal.

Keeping warm at home

If you're sat at home watching the TV, you can often feel a bit chilly.  Try to keep yourself moving where possible, as this helps to generate heat and keep your body warm.  Try to have a walk around your home or spread chores out throughout the day. 

If you struggle to walk, or get up and about, try to do small exercises while sat in your chair such as wiggling your feet and toes, as this will still help to get that blood pumping around your body.   Cooler air is always found lower down, so covering your legs with a blanket and wearing toasty slippers will protect you from any drafts. 

The ideal temperature for your home is between 18°C and 21°C.   We know that heating your home can be expensive – if you can’t heat your whole home, just make sure to have the radiators on in the living room (or wherever it is you spend most of the time) and heat the bedroom for a short while before going to bed. 

If you have an electric blanket, make sure that you have it regularly checked by an expert to make sure it’s still safe.  Some blankets can be left on all night, but others are only supposed to be used before you get into bed.  Double check yours to see which of these it is!

Warm up from the inside

Making sure you are well nourished can help to banish that cold feeling.  If you can, try to have at least one hot meal a day, which will give your body the energy it needs to generate heat. 

Drinking hot drinks during the day will keep you warm as well as keeping your fluid levels up – we still need to keep hydrated throughout the winter as well as in the warmer weather.

If the weather gets too bad, you may not feel like going out, so ensure that you have some tinned goods stocked up, or items that you can freeze.

Staying healthy in winter

Most of us will get a cough or a cold at some point during the winter, it’s usually nothing to worry about.  Flu on the other hand can be deadly at this time of year.  If you haven’t done so already, speak to your GP about receiving the annual flu vaccination.  It’s free for everyone over the age of 65, if you have certain long-term conditions or if you care for someone who may be vulnerable to the illness. 

If you are on other medications, perhaps speak to your pharmacy to see if they have a delivery service.  This way you’ll have your prescription delivered to you at home, so you don’t need to venture out in extreme weather.

Check what financial support is available

If you are in receipt of a state pension and were born on or before 5 April 1954 you will receive the Winter Fuel Payment.  This is worth between £100 and £300 depending on your eligibility. 

If you are receiving certain benefits, you may be eligible for an additional payment of £25 per week known as the Cold Weather Payment

Eligible older consumers could also receive £140 off their winter energy bill with the Warm Home Discount.  

Being prepared

Keep an eye on the local news and weather forecasts – this will help you to predict when the worst weather will hit and can help you to be a bit more prepared.

If you have elderly family or neighbours,  try to pop by to see them as often as you can.  It may be unsafe for them to venture out to get supplies so any help you can provide at this time of year is invaluable.

If you know of an older person who may be on their own this winter, and needs additional support then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.