With the cold now starting to bite, and with predictions of a harsh season ahead across the country, it’s so important for the elderly and their carers to be aware of how to manage the wintry spell to avoid discomfort as much as possible.
Here are a few simple winter care tips for the elderly from Avant Healthcare that can help every senior take better care of themselves in the cold snaps.
Even when it’s too cold to go outside, movement makes a big difference to circulation and body warmth; it gets blood flowing and warms the extremities. It also avoids the demoralisation of staying still for long periods. If you’re staying indoors, it can be helpful to do different chores at different times of the day to ensure regular movement, and even if walking is difficult or not possible, exercises in a chair or bed like moving arms or wriggling feet makes a difference. The longer we’re stationery, the colder we get.
Rather than a couple of thick layers, wearing several layers of thin clothing is more effective at retaining body heat between them, and keeps us warmer. Cosy jumpers are great, just be sure to wear them over the top of a few other items to really feel the benefit.
Extremities like hands, feet and our heads are more prone to the cold. Toasty slippers, thick socks, blankets, gloves, a scarf/shawl and a hat are all excellent ways to retain our natural body heat. Fleece is an excellent material as it’s lightweight but very cosy! A hot water bottle is a cheap and effective way to stay warm at night (as well as socks if feet are suffering), and one in the daytime doesn’t hurt either!
Turn short days to your advantage
By closing the curtains as soon as it’s getting dark, you’ll insulate against drafts and prevent the heat in your home escaping as quickly.
Eat and drink well
One hot meal each day is essential in helping our core body temperature stay at comfortable levels. Regular hot drinks throughout the day do the same, and also help with ensuring consistent activity and movement.
Manage the heating with technology
Even if you’re concerned about energy costs, keep the living room and bedroom warm as they’re the main rooms we spend our time in. With smartphone-controlled thermostats such as Hive, if there are sight or dexterity problems for the resident, a family member can set the heating schedule, check on the home’s temperature and provide short boosts as needed.
Keep an eye on the porch/driveway…
It’s easy even for young and agile people to slip, especially where ice may not be immediately visible to the eye. A carer or family member should ensure the outside of the house is well salted to prevent any accidents upon leaving the home, and a bag can be kept handy for those frosty mornings out.
…and on the tips of walkers and sticks
Check the tips at the end of any walkers or sticks that are used for mobility – if they’re worn smooth, they’re a slip hazard. It’s cheap and simple to replace the rubber tips to make sure there’s good traction even on frosty pavements.
Keep in regular contact
Loneliness is one of the most common problems cited by the elderly, who can go for long stretches without speaking to or seeing somebody. Between family, any carers and friendly neighbours, ensure there’s consistent contact on the phone or in person to keep spirits up and help with any shopping that’s required, saving a trip out into the more extreme freezing conditions.
Senior care is one of Avant’s core services, we support many elderly clients to stay comfortably at home for longer and work closely with families and carers