As temperatures begin to slip and the cold nights draw in, we take a look at how you can help keep your elderly relatives safe and healthy this winter. Colder weather can pose a number of health risks to older people, from the more obvious threat of slipping on ice to the lesser-known risk of dehydration. These six tips will help you ensure they are safe, happy and comfortable in their own homes this winter:
1. Help them to keep moving
Admittedly the chilly weather makes us all want to stay curled up on the sofa indoors, but keeping moving is especially important for elderly people during the colder months. Light exercise can help them stay warm, protect them from illness and help prevent high blood pressure (often caused by low temperatures). If it is too cold or icy to walk outside, encourage your relatives to move around the house regularly, for example, to make a hot drink.
2. Make sure they have regular interaction
We’ve previously discussed the problem of loneliness in the elderly in our blog, and during the winter months this issue can become even more pertinent. Having less social events to attend and being reluctant to venture out of the house in icy conditions can lead to increased feelings of isolation and anxiety. Regular telephone calls, visits from family members and even taking your relative to visit their friends can help combat winter loneliness. Here at Unique Senior Care, our Companionship Care service can also help with this – these regular friendship visits can include chatting over a hot drink, playing a board game or even a trip to the cinema.
3. Order their prescriptions ahead of time
Adverse weather and suffering from winter colds can prevent elderly relatives from being able to visit the pharmacy, so if they take regular medication it’s a good idea to make sure that they have enough supplies for the winter in advance. You could also ask the pharmacy if they can deliver direct, plus, at Unique Senior Care, we can collect medication for our clients.
Additionally, it is worth making sure that your relatives have a supply of over-the-counter cold remedies, just in case they do catch a winter cold. And make sure they are up to date with their flu vaccinations to help boost their immune systems – find out more about the new 2018 flu jab here.
4. Keeping warm in the home
A major issue which is often covered in the news during winter is that elderly people are sometimes reluctant to use their heating, due to fears of astronomical gas bills. They might also be less physically aware of the changes in temperature due to a medical condition. Talk to your older relatives and help them manage their finances to account for increased heating costs in the winter. There are other ways of staying warm as well as using heating, including using a hot water bottle and dressing in multiple layers. When venturing outside it is important to cover all exposed skin, by wearing a heavy coat, warm socks, hat, gloves and scarf.
5. Help them stay hydrated
Dehydration is often associated with the hot summer weather, and can therefore be overlooked in the winter. But staying hydrated in the colder months is particularly important for seniors, as it can help boost their immune systems and fight off those nasty winter bugs. Regular, nutritious meals are also extremely important – encourage them to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, and have at least one hot meal each day. Here at Unique Senior Care, we can help our clients with meal preparation.
6. Wearing practical outdoor clothing
Slipping on ice poses a danger to people of all ages, but the elderly tend to suffer more serious injuries from a fall and can take longer to recover due to complications. If your relative does wish to walk outside, encourage them to wear boots or shoes with non-slip soles. And remind them to take off any footwear as soon as they return indoors, as melted ice and snow can lead to slippery floors.
How we can help
Here at Unique Senior Care, we are here to help our clients stay healthy, safe and comfortable in their own homes, and we can also give advice specific to staying safe during the winter months. Our visits are an opportunity to make sure our clients are OK, and we can also help with some of the above tips, such as providing companionship care, collecting medication, making drinks or hot meals, or even taking them to visit friends.
If you are interested in arranging at-home care for a loved one, get in touch to discuss your needs further!