Later in life people are more likely to feel the cold as their bodies struggle at lower temperatures so that they are often not warm enough. This is an important consideration during the winter months so that health problems do not develop e.g. catching a cold and the dreaded flu bug. Here are a few useful ideas collected together in order to prepare ahead for an unexpected cold snap.
- NHS state you should set your thermostat to no less than 18C during the day and possibly higher. If it is especially cold at night, do likewise.
- The menace of fuel poverty is a big problem for many relying on a small pension and as a community we need to be especially aware of those senior citizens who will suffer the most during the winter. It is always prudent to check up on an elderly neighbour during the coldest times of the season. There are three questions to consider during your visit: Are they safe? Are they well? Are they warm enough? If they are missing something crucial like medicines, offer to get whatever they need.
- There are lots of little handheld items which will make a difference by raising the core body temperature: e.g. Hot water bottles, hand warmers, boosters and heat pads. If someone has poor circulation, these gadgets will keep their muscles warm and supple, they will also feel more comfortable in a cold room or outside.
- Wear clothes in layers to trap the heat. One can always take some of them off if it gets too hot. Keep moving and exercise too as this will help keep the body warmer for much longer.
- Electric blankets come in all shapes and sizes.
- For those who are eligable, take advantage of the Winter Fuel Payment scheme which amounts to a £100 – £300 top-up payment towards those heavy winter bills. As it costs more to heat your home during the winter, this grant will help take up some of the short fall: https://www.ovoenergy.com/guides/energy-guides/the-winter-fuel-payment-helping-pensioners-keep-warm.html
- To save more money, check if your home is adequately insulated. There are substantial efficiency savings that can be made which you can find here: Drawing the curtains is one such good idea, mostly to stop warm air drifting out and a draft from creeping back in: https://www.caba.org.uk/help-and-guides/information/easy-ways-save-energy-winter
- Fit a grab rail outside over the walkways and steps, that way someone who is frail is less likely to have a fall slipping on the ice.
For comprehensive information about staying well in the winter, check out Livewell website: https://www.livewellcampaign.co.uk/livewell-articles/stay-well-this-winter/