Winter safety during the winter months typified by cold temperatures, ice and snow can make life challenging for anyone. Cold weather and slippery pavements can cause a wide range of injuries and illnesses especially for the older members of the community.
Keep an extra eye out for senior relatives and neighbours and extend a helping hand when you can to assist them in staying safe during any season but be especially vigilant in the winter months. Check out the advice for older people this winter below and look after one another this winter.
As we get older, changes to our bodies mean that cold weather and winter bugs affect us more than they used to. Get your free flu jab – even if you’re fighting fit! Everyone over 65 is entitled to a free flu jab from the doctor or pharmacist. This year, it has a new agent which helps boost your immune system’s response to the vaccine. Even if you’re fit and healthy, it’s a great idea to get the jab to help protect yourself and others. Wash your hands regularly, it’s simple but effective – washing your hands helps stop germs spreading.
It’s not unusual to feel a bit blue in the winter months. When the weather’s miserable and the evenings are darker, it can be harder to get out and about and do the things you enjoy. If you can’t get out pick up the phone, receiving or making a telephone call and having a chat is lovely. Do something you enjoy every day – writing, reading, puzzling or knitting. Watch a comedy, laughter is good for the soul. Recognise if you’ve been feeling down for a while and it’s stopping you going out, making you feel listless and or like you don’t have any energy, you don’t have to suffer in silence. Share how you’re feeling with a friend or your doctor and get a little more support.
Don’t let indoor temperatures go too low and dress in layers. If you’re heading outside wear warm socks, a heavy coat, a warm hat, gloves and a scarf. In very cold temperatures, cover all exposed skin. Use a scarf to cover your mouth and protect your lungs.
Take extra care if the ground is slippery. Make sure to wear shoes with good traction and non-skid soles, and stay inside until the roads are clear. Replace a worn cane tip to making walking easier. Consider keeping salt and sand mixture handy to grit paths. Ask your neighbours for help to clear paths or driveways clear in bad weather – the vast majority of people are more than happy to help.
Lots of us find winter an expensive time of year. Darker nights and cold weather often mean higher bills. Plus the festive season can put a strain on the pocket. Draw curtains in the evenings to minimise heat loss through windows. Keep radiators and heaters clear so heat can circulate – don’t put furniture in front of them or dry washing on them. If there are rooms you don’t use, turn off the radiators in them and close the doors. Make sure you keep your living room (or the room you use most) warm during the day while you’re at home at 21°C/70°F and heat your bedroom to 18°C/64°F before you go to bed. Use your heating controls, such as thermostats and timers, to heat your home without wasting energy.
Look after each other
Make time for relatives, friends and neighbours. Darker nights and miserable weather can make it harder for people to get out and about. And if you’re stuck at home, you can end up feeling lonely and a bit down. Calling for a chat, popping in for a cuppa or even sending a card in the post can really help let someone know you’re thinking about them. Who do you know who might be feeling a little lonely? Who can you help with an errand, or to check in on?
Prepare and plan
Keep an eye on the weather forecast. It’s good to know what to expect. If bad weather is forecast, make sure you have everything you need to hunker down indoors for a few days. Check medication and food supplies will last and stock up if needs be. Keep food cupboard and freezer food supplies topped up in case it’s harder to leave the house for a few days.
Try to avoid going out on foot or in the car in bad weather if at all possible, and make sure you follow advice on driving conditions near you. If you do need to go out, keep blankets, some snacks and a shovel in the car in case you get stuck. Have a torch at home in case of a power cut. Don’t forget to check the batteries and keep emergency numbers nearby.