Elderly people, especially those with illnesses like respiratory problems, are more prone to feeling the cold than the young and healthy. When the cold weather hits it is important to take the necessary precautions to stay safe and warm.
The temperature in your home must be kept to an appropriate level, but it is also important to be careful when stepping out in snow and ice if you aren’t too steady on your feet. Here are our tips for keeping safe and warm in winter:
If you are particularly frail it is best to avoid walking anywhere outdoors in severe ice and snow. When there is a place you want or need to go, consider arranging a taxi, friend or relative to drive you and help you to the car; you don’t want to be house-bound for the whole winter after all!
To avoid going out in bad weather to do your food shop an online shop might be your best option. If you don’t have access to a computer talk to a family member that could able to help you arrange this.
When you do venture outside make sure you wear comfortable shoes with a good grip. Black ice is especially slippery and dangerous, but isn’t always immediately visible. You could sprinkle grit or cat litter around your paths to avoid a fall when taking out the rubbish etc.
Drinking regular hot drinks and at least one warm meal everyday will keep your temperature up. Staying healthy is essential to fight any ill effects of the cold, so make sure you eat often to keep up your energy levels. Eat more than you would in warmer months.
As always, it is essential to eat a varied diet rich in vegetables, lean protein and complex carbohydrates; this is especially important to keep you as well as possible when you are more susceptible to illness in the bad weather.
It is best to keep your home at least 16°C, but preferably at 18-21°C. Wear lots of cosy layers to keep you warm and draw curtains in the evening to keep out draught. If you live in an old home, consider looking into improving the insulation. You may find that there is a grant available to you if the cost of doing so is too high.
Hypothermia can strike when body temperature drops below 35°C, and will quickly become life threatening. A combination of factors can cause it, such as spending too long outdoors in the cold and living in a house that is too draughty and cold. As the elderly move about less than the young and able-bodied, they are more susceptible to contracting hypothermia.
Initial symptoms include tiredness, shivering, quick breathing and cold, pale skin. The person may become delirious and struggle to breathe and move. If you or a loved one experiences any of these symptoms medical help must be sought immediately.
The start of the cold weather might be worrying for you if you aren’t in the best health; if you live alone consider arranging for a friend or relative to visit each day for peace of mind.
By taking the appropriate precautions you can make sure you stay safe and sufficiently warm throughout the winter. If the cold weather is coming and you are feel that you aren’t able to care for yourself however, it could it be time to consider moving to a retirement home, or investing in a domiciliary service if you wish to stay in your house.
Emily Bradbury is writing on behalf of Solihull Care, providers of home care in Solihull and the surrounding areas.
If you are a health care provider and have any concerns about the elderly, please spread the word on these important tips. In the meantime, allow AIHCP to supply any of your CEU or certification needs in health care courses.