Helping Older People Stay Warm and Well This Winter

Published: 02/12/2018

Winter can make life more difficult for many elderly people, so here are a few top tips to help older people stay warm and well in the colder weather.

Staying healthy through a dreary British winter is always a challenge, but it’s particularly hard for older people. Over 30,000 excess winter deaths of people over the age of 65 were recorded between 2016 and 2017 (ONS 2017). So, what do elderly people or their carers need to think about when it comes to avoiding winter illnesses and keeping warm and well in the colder months?

Top Tips for Good Winter Health

With a bit of common sense and some planning, it’s possible to reduce winter health risks. Some top tips for maintaining wellbeing include:
  1. The dreaded Norovirus tends to be more prevalent in winter but washing your hands regularly and avoiding anyone with a tummy bug can help reduce your risk of coming down with this nasty virus.
  2. Have enough medication at home in case of a weather emergency. You don’t want to run out of important medicines if you can’t get out to the doctor or the pharmacy. Check that any vaccinations, like the flu or pneumonia jab, are up to date and stock up on cold remedies too.
  3. If possible, store more food than usual in your cupboards in case the weather makes shopping or grocery deliveries difficult.
  4. Eat healthy, nourishing food to ensure you’re getting all the vitamins and minerals you need to ward off winter colds and viruses. Regular hot meals will also help keep you warm.
  5. Dehydration can not only make you more prone to infections, but it can make you feel colder too. Take on plenty of fluids regularly, including plenty of hot drinks to keep you warm.
  6. Sitting around for too long can make your temperature drop, so make sure you get up and do something every now and again to get your circulation going.
  7. Keep your home at a safe temperature. If you have a thermostat, programme it to a constant temperature - around 21 degrees Celcius is recommended for your living areas and around 18 degrees for your bedroom. If you’re worried about fuel costs, Age UK have some great advice on getting help with heating bills.
  8. When it comes to clothes, layering is better than wearing one thick item, so wear a few extra clothes to keep yourself toasty in the house. If you’re going outside, wrap up well with a hat, scarf and gloves to help stop you losing heat and getting a chill.
  9. Add extra covers to your bedding and cover your knees with a warm blanket when you’re sitting down. Taking a good old-fashioned hot water bottle to bed with you or investing in an electric blanket to keep you cosy at night will help too.
  10. Only go out if you absolutely have to when the weather is very bad. Being exposed to extreme cold or falling on an icy pavement just aren’t worth the risk.
  11. Try and get some fresh air but don’t leave the windows open for too long, especially at night as breathing in chilled air can make you more susceptible to chest infections.
  12. Use draught excluders and fill any gaps where the wind might be getting through and reducing the temperature of your home. Closing your curtains as soon as it gets dark can help keep the heat in too.

Quality Homecare That Gives You Peace of Mind

Of course, doing things like cooking a hot meal might be more difficult for older people who are living alone or with a disability or health condition. If that’s the case, we can offer you or your loved ones a little extra help during the colder months. If you live in the South London area, get in touch with our Bluebird Care Wandsworth team to find out more about the homecare services we offer. We have plenty of care options to suit your unique needs and are here to give you and your family peace of mind that you’re safe and well at home this winter.

For anyone worried about their own wellbeing, or that of an older person this winter, Age UK and the NHS have lots of advice and support available.