Care in Kent’s top tips for keeping your loved ones warm this winter.
It’s fair to say that it’s getting pretty chilly out there! And while for the majority of us, chucking on an extra pair of socks or jogging for the bus can stave off the frostbite while we’re indoors or out and about, older people are much more vulnerable to the cold. As we age our bodies are less able to preserve heat, and for our elderly loved ones, getting too cold can go hand-in-hand with all sorts of health implications, including hypothermia, liver damage, increased blood pressure and stress to the heart.
If you are caring for an elderly loved one, no doubt you’re starting to think about ways to ensure that they stay warm this winter – no mean feat when the current cost of living crisis has us all keeping a close eye on the smart meter! Care In Kent has come up with some practical tips for ensuring that your loved ones can stay healthy, happy and warm this winter, without necessarily costing a fortune!
1. Make Sure The House Is Warm
Of course, putting the heating on is likely to be unavoidable – and not doing so can be potentially harmful to your loved one’s health, but there are some practical things you can implement this winter to ensure that their home is warmed as energy efficiently as possible.
It’s a good idea to make sure (in advance of the colder weather ideally) that the boiler in your loved one’s home has been recently serviced and that radiators, heaters and fires etc are all in good working order.
Make sure that windows and doors are resealed, and get draft excluders to put under doors. What might seem like a minor draft to you, could be a risk to an older person’s health, and these measures are particularly important if your loved one is living with a condition such as dementia or Alzheimer’s, where they might not immediately recognise that they are feeling cold.
To make your loved one’s home as energy efficient as possible, it’s well worth investing in wall and loft insulation and double glazing if their home doesn’t already have it, in order to stop as much heat from escaping as possible.
Other practical things you can do to keep your elderly loved one’s home as warm as possible is to make sure that curtains are closed when it starts to get dark, and that doors to unused rooms are kept shut – it’s much easier (and cheaper!) to keep one or two ‘priority’ areas of the home warm rather than to warm the whole house.
2. Make Sure They Are Eating Well To Stay Warm
The human body has a natural thermostat, and a healthy diet featuring lots of carbohydrates will fuel your loved one with the energy to help keep themselves warm. Good foods for boosting internal heat include stews, soups and curries, and these can help to warm from the inside out.
Staying well-hydrated is equally important when it comes to helping older people to stay warm, so ensure that your loved one has regular access to plenty of fluids. It’s a good idea to encourage them to avoid alcohol consumption – particularly in excess – as the drier air temperatures we experience during the winter months, when coupled with alcohol, can lead to dehydration, which can cause heat loss in older people.
3. Ensure Your Loved One Is Dressing For The Colder Weather
Again, this is something that is incredibly important if your loved one is living with dementia, or if they are unable to dress themselves unaided. Lots of thinner layers are more effective at helping someone to retain body heat than one large, chunky jumper, so ensure that your loved one is dressed in layers of clothing that can be easily removed if they feel too hot, or added to if they feel cold. It’s a good idea to invest in thermal vests and underwear as a base layer, before layering clothing that will trap in the heat.
Socks and slippers are important for keeping feet warm, especially for older people who experience problems with circulation, and blankets can be used to cover their legs. These measures are all the more important for elderly people who have limited mobility and might be sitting still for long periods of time. Electric blankets and hot water bottles are also a sound investment for those who might be bed or chair-bound, and can also provide extra warmth at night for even the most active older people.
If your loved one is outside it goes without saying that they should be wrapped up warm with winter essentials such as gloves, a hat and a scarf. Make sure that your loved one has well-fitting enclosed shoes or boots for walking outside, and it’s important to remember that if an older person is outside in wet or damp weather that clothes should be removed and changed as soon as possible to prevent the risk of hypothermia.
If you are caring for an older loved one and are looking for help and support during the winter months, whether it’s with running errands to prevent them from having to venture out in the cold, or with ensuring that they can prepare a hot meal or drink, Care In Kent provide a wide range of at-home care.
We specialise in helping to care for those with dementia or Alzheimer’s and can provide respite care for those who are feeling overwhelmed in their caring role. Get in touch with a member of our dedicated team today to see how we can help.