We all know how important it is for older people to stay warm in the winter; as we age we are less able to fight off viruses as our immune systems become weaker. The cold can affect an older person’s circulation and heart, and make other health conditions harder to manage.
This year, of course, we also have the coronavirus to consider, which we know can have more impact on the health of the elderly than on other social groups.
So what can we do to ensure that our elderly loved ones, and the older members of our community stay well this winter?
Keep On Moving
Even small amounts of physical activity will help an elderly person maintain strength and mobility, and even those with long-term health conditions can take part in simple home-based exercises if outdoor walks are out of the question.
If you have an elderly relative or neighbour, encourage them to keep active where you can – perhaps invite them to walk with you to the local shop for their morning paper instead of you getting it for them; or suggest a stroll in the park or joining you on a short dog walk? Even a few minutes of daily physical exercise could make all the difference to their health.
When it’s colder and darker outside and the world is, let’s face it, a little bit scarier than normal, it can be hard to be motivated to prepare nutritious meals – particularly for an older person who lives alone or is starting to struggle with day-to-day tasks.
Also, as we age our appetite decreases and a lot of older people find they can’t eat a full meal like they used to, and this can mean that they stop cooking for themselves altogether and don’t get all the nutrition they need.
If you have an elderly loved one maybe you could invite them to dinner in the week or offer to go round and cook for them, or perhaps you could cook a little extra when you’re cooking for your family and take a meal to an elderly neighbour – I’m sure the thought would be appreciated, especially around Christmas time.
The ideal scenario during the colder months is to keep the house at a steady and comfortable temperature, keeping windows closed (particularly at night) and drawing curtains as evening falls will help to keep the heat in. Wearing layers and having plenty of warm blankets on hand will also help.
Keep an eye on your elderly relatives, friends and neighbours this winter to make sure they’re keeping warm. If you’re concerned that they are struggling with heating bills you can contact organisations such as Age Concern who might be able to help.
Stock Up On Remedies!
Making sure your loved one has a good supply of cold and sore throat remedies at home is a good idea for if they start feeling under the weather, but it’s not something that warrants a visit to the GP.
Have The Free Flu Jab – Even If You Think You Don’t Need It
Everyone over the age of 65 is entitled to a free flu jab – as are their carers. In order to protect the most vulnerable groups during the coronavirus pandemic, personal assistants and those who live with someone who had to shield during the lockdown in spring are also eligible.
Even if you feel fit and healthy, getting the jab is a good idea to protect yourself and others around you – and the vaccine that is available for those over 65 contains an agent that boosts the immune system’s response to the vaccine.
If you think that an elderly person in your life hasn’t had the flu vaccine – maybe because they can’t get to a doctor or pharmacist – perhaps you could help them with transport or accompany them to the appointment.
Check also if they are eligible for the pneumo vaccine to help protect against pneumonia.
If you are an older person and want to know more about staying well this winter, or if you are concerned about an elderly relative or neighbour and how they might cope during the colder months, why not give Care In Kent a call? We can offer tips and advice, as well as offer at-home care if required.