Advice For Caring For Elderly Parents & Loved Ones Over Winter
Crisper mornings and crunchy walks through the snow. Winter can be a truly beautiful time of year, not to mention hot chocolate, mulled wine, hot water bottles and fluffy slippers. However, it can also be an extremely dangerous time of year; particularly for elderly people.
According to the Office of National Statistics, there was ‘an estimated 50,100 excess winter deaths in England and Wales’ throughout the 2017 and 2018 winter period. It was the highest record of excess winter deaths since the 1975 to 1976 period.
Older people are more vulnerable throughout winter and it is important that they are able to stay physically and emotionally safe.
Winter Advice for the Elderly and Those Caring for Them
Winter clothes and shoes:
As temperatures drop it is worthwhile to go through your loved ones wardrobe with them and take an inventory of winter clothing. Are there any items that need replacing? It may be worth asking these questions:
- Do they still have a good quality coat?
- Have their jumpers seen better days?
- Do they have sufficient clothing that can be layered to help them stay warm?
- Do their shoes provide enough grip for icy walks?
- Are their shoes waterproof?
Once you have an idea of the types of winter clothes they have you can replace older items with fresh choices that will help they stay warmer as the days get colder.
Make a winter stockpile: In addition to checking that they have enough warm clothing, take stock of other items that can help them keep warm. Make sure they have some of the following to hand:
Blankets:You can never have too many. Blankets can be piled on top of each other for additional warmth. You could even invest in an electric blanket to make the beds warmer at night.
Hot water bottle: An underrated household item that everyone should have. Amazon sells a wide variety with the prices ranging between £5 and £10. If you are worried about your loved ones handling scolding hot water there are other options such as microwavable ‘hotties’ that work just as well.
Now may be the perfect time for a shopping trip to ensure your parents or loved ones are able to stay warm and comfortable throughout the colder months.
Medical Advice for Elderly Before and During Winter
Colder weather weakens our immune systems. For elderly people aged 65 and older, cold weather can increase the risks of chest infections, high blood pressure and even heart attacks and strokes according to the NHS.
It is extremely important that your loved ones take a trip to the doctor for their free flu jab and for a general health checkup before winter sets in. It is also worthwhile checking in with the doctor throughout the winter months. It may be that your loved ones could benefit from taking additional vitamins until summer. Your doctor will be able to offer advice specific to them.
Be Mindful of Winter Blues
Being lonely is a terrible feeling and it is a common problem amongst older people. The risk of loneliness increases during winter as more people stay indoors and tend to socialise less.
If you are worried that your loved ones are suffering from winter blues, there are options available to help:
Age UK’s befriending service: You can choose between face to face or phone befriending, a service that matches elderly people to someone with similar hobbies and interests.
Daily visits from qualified professionals: This is a form of elderly care where a qualified nurse or carer will visit your loved ones home at a pre-agreed time and day. In addition to offering help and support, including health checks and some household chores, it means that your loved ones will have the opportunity to socialise.
Live-in care: This is a great option even during the warmer months. A qualified live in carer will be with your loved ones twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, ensuring that they have everything they need.
Whatever option you choose, there are ways to help your loved ones beat the winter blues. The face to face options also means that someone will be able to check that your loved ones are staying warm, that there is enough food in the house and that there is the opportunity to go out and socialise.
Taking these steps will ensure that your elderly family member or friend remains safe and happy throughout winter, a season that is beautiful and festive yet can be dangerous.