With recent news reports suggesting that potential snowfall across the UK during the coming
months could affect supermarket food deliveries, the list of potential dangers the elderly are
facing this winter keeps on growing. Add the continuing threat of COVID-19 into the mix and
it’s more important to keep an eye on the older members of our community than ever.
We’ve already provided some top tips for caring for the most vulnerable members of our
community during the winter period in a previous article:
but what else can we do to ease the suffering that many seniors face as the
Research carried out by Independent Age shows that 57% of people over 65 don’t feel
comfortable shopping in a supermarket – and that was carried out before the pandemic! With
over 65’s more at risk from the virus, this percentage has no doubt increased, and although
some supermarkets initially offered free priority slots for those more at risk, the easing of
restrictions in August saw the reintroduction of delivery charges and minimum spends for
most supermarkets. Older people reported high levels of concern about social distancing,
crowding, and safety measures in supermarkets, meaning many over 65’s ended up paying
more to access food safely by shopping online.
And let’s not forget those who are unable to shop online; who perhaps haven’t been eating
proper meals – or indeed any meals! – in order to stretch out what they have in the cupboards
and avoid the stresses and expense of doing a shop.
Shop For A Neighbour
Queues, crowds and panic-buying are now all-to-common elements during our weekly shop,
but imagine how much more frightening and stressful that must be if you are an elderly
person who perhaps cannot move as quickly, or is confused as to why they can’t find what
they need on the supermarket shelves.
They might not have the mobility or the capacity to get to the next nearest supermarket if
their local one is out of loo rolls. Perhaps they don’t have family living nearby who can drop
in a spare pint of milk or loaf of bread when supplies are scarce.
Some members of older generations don’t feel comfortable asking for help, so offering to
shop for an elderly neighbour would probably be very gratefully accepted. You don’t have to
make a special trip if it’s not convenient, you can incorporate it into your own weekly shop,
and you probably won’t find that it adds a lot of time onto your trip….. It’s likely that you’ll
only be shopping for a household of one or two people, and as older people tend to buy less
food in a week than a younger person, couple, or family, it’s doubtful that you’ll find yourself
trailing around the supermarket for an extra hour on a Saturday morning!
Delivering the groceries is possible by following the correct guidelines; wearing masks,
gloves, social distancing, and sanitising your hands; or your neighbour might be more
comfortable with you leaving it on the doorstep for them to take in themselves. Either way,
this relatively small gesture could ensure that someone doesn’t go hungry this winter, and
could do a lot to help alleviate an older person’s feelings of anxiety or stress.
Help Them Online
It could be that you get your shopping delivered yourself. Are you able to do the same for an
elderly neighbour? Despite recent rises in the number of over 65’s who use the internet over
the last couple of years, there is still a high percentage of those over the age of 75 who don’t
– for a variety of reasons including cost and ill health. Offering to do an online shop for a
neighbour could relieve them from a lot of worry; and you don’t even have to leave your
home to do it!
How To Save A Life In 10 Minutes
Of course it’s not just the shopping that could be an issue this winter. When we’re younger
and in good health we take it for granted that even during the coldest of weather we’ll be ok;
running upstairs to stick another jumper on is no big deal, nor is getting up and putting the
heating on or going to get a hot cuppa. But if you’re older and suffering with mobility issues
that leave you unable to go up and down the stairs or easily prepare food and hot drinks it’s
much more of a challenge.
If you have an elderly friend or neighbour, why not pop by and check if they need anything this winter
– whilst following government guidelines for social distancing of course!
● Are they staying warm enough – especially at night?
● Do they have enough food and medications in the house?
● Is their smoke alarm working ok?
● Do they have an open fire or use a portable heater? – ask if they have a grate and
remind them not to sit too close
● Advise them to shut the curtains at night to keep the heat in and to wear several thin
layers instead of one thick one.
Just taking 10 minutes out of your day to check that an older person is ok really could save
someone’s life, and your kindness will most likely be gratefully received.
If you’re concerned about an elderly neighbour or relative, especially if they’re not taking you
up on any offers of help, or you’re concerned for their safety, charities such as Age UK can
If you want to know more about how to look out for the elderly this winter, or you feel that an
elderly loved one might need some at home care during the winter months, please get in
touch and a member of our dedicated team would be happy to help.