Getting Prepared for Winter – Part 4: Planning To Keep Warm

Older people often feel the cold more acutely and, if they do get cold, it can make them more vulnerable to illness, whether it be seasonal bugs, or existing conditions.

So, what are Bluebird Care Bradford's key tips to keeping warm in winter? West Yorkshire can experience both cold and wet weather during a typical winter and you should aim to be prepared. We suggest you start by concentrating on three key areas:

1/ Heating Your Home: Having a warm and comfortable home is probably the first priority. Aim to heat your home to a comfortable temperature during the daytime and then, when it gets dark, draw your curtains promptly. Make yourself familiar with the heating system or systems in your home. Learn how the thermostat works and how to set heating to come on in the morning, before you get out of bed. Turn off radiators in rooms that are not in use and close doors to those rooms. Keeping warm obviously impacts your fuel bills, so make sure you’re getting all the support you’re entitled to from the government. Age UK have a handy guide to sources of help with your fuel bills:  Find out more about what support you can get with your energy bills

2/ Activity Is Warming: Although you might not feel like exercising outside if it’s very cold, exercise in itself is a great way to keep warm and healthy. Consider developing an indoor exercise routine. You might enjoy sessions on a static bicycle, but at the other end of the scale simple seated exercise can also make you feel warmer and energised.  The website of disability sport organisation, The Activity Alliance, includes a list of useful exercise advice, workouts, videos and activity guides, many of which can be done indoors - Active at home. Remember, even household chores can be warming if they get you on your feet and moving about the house.

3/ Clothing – wrap up warm! Next to keeping your house warm, using warm, layered clothing is the next best defence against the cold.  Layering is a great idea, as each clothing layer creates its own layer of warm air. At the same time, if you get too warm, wearing several thin layers of clothing makes it easier to regulate your temperature. Here’s how layering might be organised:

Base Layer: Thermal underwear, both tops and bottoms, with full leg and arm coverage are a great start.

Mid Layer: Above that, you can wear layers of sweaters, fleeces, sweatshirts, and light jackets. Try to keep them relatively loose fitting. Tight clothing excludes the warming layers of air and can even constrict blood flow. This is especially true of gloves and footwear – looser fitting gloves and socks that are not too tight are much warmer than tight fitting ones. Modern “puffer” jackets come in various thicknesses and even without arms. They are incredibly light and, being more windproof than fleeces, they make a very good insulator in winter. They make a comfortable and not too bulky option for wearing indoors if you are in a colder indoor environment.

Outer Layers: A good waterproof coat is essential if you’re going out on a cold day. Ideally it should be both wind and rain-proof and should be long enough to reach the tops of your thighs, at least. Modern materials again ensure that they are less bulky and heavy than you might expect.

The Extremities: Add a fleece hat, warm (loose fitting) gloves, and a scarf to really keep the warmth locked in on colder days.

A Few More Winter Warming Tips

  • If your house has a room that gets lots of sunlight, make sure you make use of it on sunny days, even if it’s cold outside. Sunlight warms through glass, even in winter, and it also lifts your mood.
  • Nutrition and body temperature are linked, especially in older people. Eat well, especially in colder weather – the body needs more energy at these times to keep you warm.
  • Consider one of the new generation of electric blankets, mattress toppers or throws, to help provide extra, targeted heat in bed or on the sofa. Having a couple of plain blankets or throws in the living room is a great way to quickly add a layer of warmth if you start to feel cold.
  • Have some thicker curtains available for winter in your main rooms. They can help keep your house insulated.
  • Don’t forget your feet. Warm socks and slippers keep your lower extremities warm, both when you’re sitting down and when you’re moving around the house.

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3. Assessment

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4. Care team chosen & care starts

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