Fresh, crisp winter days can be amazing, but the lower temperatures can be detrimental to your health. Figures show that Winter weather can increase the risk of deaths from cold-related illnesses – and the elderly are particularly vulnerable. As the clocks have gone back and days turn short, dark nights have made an appearance and some very wintry weather too, here is our checklist for making the winter months safer and better for elderly people...
Keep the house warm
There are a few ways to ensure their house is kept warm. You need to ensure that the boiler is being checked and serviced before the Winter months begin as this will lessen the chance of the heating breaking. Also check all radiators to ensure they are producing heat. AGE UK advise to have the living room at 21 degrees, the bedroom at 18 degrees and the rest of the house at, at least 16 degrees.
Also ensure that the house is well insulated as this will keep the heat locked in and create a warm environment. Also once it gets dark, draw the curtains so no drafts get in.
Another tip is to get a keyhole cover. Many old houses have a large open keyhole instead of modern homes that have a more secure, little keyhole. Therefore, an elderly person is more likely to live in an old house so getting a keyhole cover will help to stop little drafts getting into the house.
Keeping the house warm can help with avoiding Hypothermia, which is highly dangerous for the elderly.
What is hypothermia?
Older adults can quickly lose body heat and aren’t always aware of their temperature, making it easy for them to become too cold, too quickly. Body temperature below 35C (normal temperature is 37C) can cause hypothermia. Hypothermia is particularly dangerous and a high health problem for older adults; especially those living alone as there’s not someone around to notice the early signs.
Early signs of hypothermia:
Cold hands and feet
Puffy or swollen face
Slow or slurred speech
Anger or confusion
Later signs of hypothermia:
Slow or jerky movements including trouble walking and clumsiness
Slow, shallow breathing
Loss of consciousness
Help with heating bills
The cost of heating is a worry for many, especially the elderly but there is some help at hand in terms of UK Government payments. Most people born before 6 May 1953 were entitled to the Winter Fuel Payment in 2016–17 to help with heating costs. It’s a tax-free payment of between £100 and £300 paid out between November and December. This can help avoid feeling the cold weather from inside houses.
A space heater is a great source of heat, however they possess high fire hazards if they are left on alone or near flammable objects. Never use an oven or cooker as a source of heat as this can cause Carbon Monoxide poisoning.
Eating well and exercising
Regular, daily exercise and a hot meal a day will help keep elderly parents warm and well over the winter; if its icy outside then encourage them to do exercises indoors. Staying active can warm up the body which can avoid a number of health issues including Hypothermia and heart attacks. A few examples of types of exercises are:
Bicycle riding (stationary or on a path)
Some activities of gardening, such as raking and pushing a lawn mower
When going outside it is important to wrap up in order to keep them as warm as possible. Here are some examples of what the elderly should be wearing:
Thermals / multiple layers
Dry / warm gloves
Anti-skid soles are also good to put into shoes
Careful hygiene and hand washing will prevent the spread of colds, flu and other viruses. Follow our step by step guide on how to properly wash your hands:
Wet your hands with running water - either warm or cold.
Apply liquid, bar or powder soap to a cupped hand.
Rub your hands, palm to palm, vigorously for at least 20 seconds. Remember to scrub all surfaces, including the backs of your hands, wrists, between your fingers and under your fingernails.
Dry your hands with a clean towel.
Use the towel to turn off the running water.
Hopefully now you have everything you need to know about keeping elderly citizens safe this Winter and feel confident in doing so! Is there anything you can think of that we might have missed? Let us know in the comments below!