5 Ways To Support Seniors To Stay Healthy In Winter
January 19th, 2022
It’s natural to be worried about an elderly loved one during winter, and you can feel especially helpless if they’re in a care home and your visiting options are limited. However, there are practical steps you can take to support your loved one to stay connected and feel healthy throughout the winter.
Feelings of loneliness and isolation in older people can be more prevalent in winter when it can be harder for them to get out and about or for the family to come together – something that’s been heightened since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
What’s more, older people can feel the cold more, and they’re also more vulnerable to slips and falls on the ice. In fact, data from the UK Health Security Agency shows that falls are the most common cause of death from injury in people aged 65 and over.
With all of this in mind, it’s vital that older people have extra support in the colder months to help reduce the risk of winter falls and to prevent any feelings of isolation.
Why Do Older People Feel The Cold More?
Older people tend to feel the cold more in the winter, with increased sensitivity to the cold a normal part of ageing. However, a sudden or significant change to how someone feels the cold could indicate another problem, so you should always speak to your GP if you have any concerns.
One potential reason behind why older people feel the cold more is that the fat layer underneath our skin that conserves heat gets thinner as we get older, leaving our bodies less insulated.
As older people naturally feel the cold more, it’s important to take extra steps to help them to stay warm and healthy throughout the winter months.
5 Tips To Support Seniors In Winter
Staying healthy in winter is so important for seniors, and you can help with this by making sure they feel connected to loved ones, are eating well, and are able to stay warm throughout the cold winter months.
1. Create A Support Network
When you’re elderly and winter comes around, everything from grocery shopping to important errands and even getting out to see family can become more challenging.
Make sure that your loved one doesn’t have to put themselves at risk by going outside in cold or icy weather but doesn’t feel cut off from the rest of the family by setting up a support network. In a shared WhatsApp group or digital calendar, add all family members and neighbours who are happy to be involved to ensure there’s always someone on hand to be with your loved one, drop food off, or take them to an appointment.
Whether your loved one is living independently or in residential care, getting them set up with FaceTime or Zoom so they can communicate with family and friends virtually can be a lifeline when visiting is more difficult in the winter. If they’re not the most confident using technology themselves, care home staff will always be on hand to help keep you connected.
2. Stay Hydrated
During winter, we actually lose more fluids (when you can see your breath in front of you, that’s actually water vapour that your body’s losing), which means that staying hydrated is more important than ever.
If you’re concerned that your loved one isn’t drinking enough water, make sure they have refillable bottles within easy reach, and consider leaving reminders for them – either in their phone or around the house – to encourage them to drink plenty throughout the day.
3. Make Sure They’re Getting The Right Vitamins
Getting the right vitamins is important for everyone to stay healthy during winter, and elderly people need this extra support more than most. Vitamin D is especially important in the winter months, as natural sunlight is the main source of this essential vitamin, and this is limited at this time of year.
Speaking to Age UK, British Dietetic Association spokesperson Priya Tew explained: “It can be difficult in the UK to meet our vitamin D needs through sunlight and diet alone.
“For this reason, it’s recommended that over-65s take a supplement of vitamin D of 10 micrograms per day. Try to get out in the sun for 10-15 minutes a day without sunscreen too.”
Calcium supplements can also be beneficial for older people, as they can help to maintain bone health, which is especially important in the winter months.
Another key vitamin for older people in the winter is vitamin C, which is also an antioxidant. Vitamin C is found in lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, so make sure your loved one has a regular supply, dropped off by family members or even a delivery service.
4. Ensure They’re Eating Well
It’s important to make sure that seniors are eating warming, hearty meals during winter to keep their bodies warm and nourished. If you’re batch-cooking for your own freezer, take a few portions around to your loved one so you know they have plenty to eat for the next few days or weeks.
It’s also a good idea to keep their cupboards stocked with essentials like oats, long-life milk, beans, and tinned vegetables so they have filling, warming foods to eat if you’re unable to visit.
If you have a loved one in a New Care home, you can be sure that they’re eating nourishing meals prepared with their individual dietary needs in mind, during the winter months and beyond.
5. Keep Them Warm
Whether your loved one is living independently or in a care home, make sure they have their favourite blankets and plenty of hot water bottles around them as winter approaches. Familiar items can be a comfort when an elderly person moves into residential care, so consider washing and repairing old-favourite items rather than buying brand new.
It’s especially important that older people aren’t losing too much heat through their head when they venture outside, so make sure they have plenty of hats – as well as scarves and gloves – to hand to help keep them warm. Buy – or even knit – them a variety of warm-weather accessories in a choice of colours and styles so they’ll be more likely to wrap up warm when they go outdoors in winter.
Exercise is also key for keeping warm, so encourage your loved one to keep their body moving as much as possible. If they’re able to, bring them along for gentle walks with the family; if their mobility is a little more limited, perhaps try chair yoga or some simple stretches together to keep both of your bodies moving.
Winter And The Elderly: Your Concerns In Safe Hands
If you have a loved one in a care home, you can be assured that they’re in safe hands throughout the winter months and beyond with New Care. Our trained chefs will ensure they’re receiving nutritious meals, while regular gentle exercise is encouraged for those who are able.
Our care home staff are also on hand to help keep your loved one connected with the wider family, including when it becomes harder for them to visit.