Keeping Warm In Winter: Advice For The Elderly
October 27th, 2022
Winter can be a challenging season for elderly people, with excess deaths usually attributed to the colder weather and illnesses such as flu, while falls on ice present a different type of risk. With this in mind, our winter safety tips for seniors cover advice on keeping warm, healthy, and safe in the colder months.
Older people tend to feel the cold more as they age, partly due to a slowdown in their natural metabolic rate, and also because their bodies are producing fewer blood vessels. This makes it harder for their blood – and subsequently heat – to reach extremities like the hands and feet, leaving them feeling colder.
Winter advice for the elderly can sometimes feel quite extreme, but it’s given with your best interests in mind. More people die each winter than in the warmer summer months – even when heatwaves are taken into account). Pre-pandemic data from the Office for National Statistics shows that there were an estimated 23,200 excess deaths in the winter of 2018-19, with respiratory illnesses cited as the leading cause.
It’s therefore important to do everything you can to look after yourself or elderly loved ones in the winter to help reduce this risk as much as possible. If you’re looking for tips on keeping warm in winter for the elderly, read on for advice on everything from keeping warm to avoiding falls in ice and snow.
How To Keep Elderly Warm In The Winter
If you’re looking for tips on how to keep elderly warm in the winter, there are two main categories to think about: heating their environment, and heating their body. Read on for advice on how to manage both as the temperature falls.
Tips For Heating Your Home
When it comes to keeping warm in winter for the elderly, you should focus on heating the space that you’re in, rather than your whole house, as this may help you to save some money as energy costs rise.
With energy bills increasing, if you don’t want to compromise on your heating, you may want to try to save on your bills in other ways, such as having showers instead of baths or using an eco cycle on your washing machine. Take a look at the government’s website to see if you qualify for a Winter Fuel Payment for support towards your energy bills too.
Keep windows closed to prevent cold air from coming inside, and use draught excluders to block out draughts and stop rooms leaking warm air. And if you’re thinking longer term, perhaps if you’re planning to leave your property to a loved one, make sure your home is properly insulated. Loft insulation is one of the most energy efficient options, preventing heat from escaping through your roof, keeping the rooms below it warmer. The savings that loft insulation generates means the cost of installation can quickly pay for itself.
Tips For Heating Yourself
Tips on keeping warm in winter for the elderly shouldn’t just focus on heating the home, but your body too. For example, using blankets and hot water bottles alongside your central heating may mean that you can turn your thermostat down by a couple of degrees, potentially helping you to save some money on your bills.
Invest in a higher tog duvet too – a 13.5 tog duvet should be suitable for winter, while a 15 tog quilt will be even warmer. However, be careful when it comes to electric blankets. They can be a fire risk if you forget to turn them off, and they can use a lot of energy too, meaning they aren’t always a cost-effective option.
Layer up too; wearing several layers will trap heat in between each one, keeping you warmer than if you were wearing just one jumper. Thermal vests and leggings underneath your clothes can provide extra warmth. Drinking plenty of hot drinks throughout the day will also help.
No one should be in the position where they need to wear a coat or gloves in the house – keeping warm in winter for the elderly population shouldn’t be a struggle – so please ask for help if you need it, as there are charities out there that can provide support. Some cafes offer a warm place to sit and a free hot drink or subsidised meal for those in need, while community groups provide company and warmth all year round.
More Cold Weather Advice For The Elderly
Winter advice for the elderly shouldn’t just focus on how to stay warm; falls are also a much bigger risk in the colder months, particularly during an icy or snowy spell. If you’re not confident leaving the house when it’s slippery outdoors, we recommend following our top winter safety tips for seniors:
- Lean on your support network: arrange for family, friends, and neighbours to carry out errands for you, such as food shopping, walking your dog, or driving you to appointments so that you don’t need to leave the house too often
- Keep your cupboards stocked: try to keep your pantry as well stocked as possible so that you can limit unnecessary trips outside of the house when the weather is bad to reduce your risk of a fall
- Take care when leaving the house: if you do need to leave the house when it’s icy or snowy, make sure you’re wrapped up as warmly as possible, and that you’re wearing shoes with a good grip. Take your time when walking to keep yourself as steady as possible. One of our most important winter safety tips for seniors is to always let someone know where you’re going and when just in case anything does happen
- Ask for help: always reach out to loved ones, neighbours, or a local charity if you need extra help – you should never struggle on your own, and there’s no shame in asking for help
Winter Advice For The Elderly On Staying Healthy
During the autumn and winter months, it’s especially important to be doing everything you can to support your immune system, as colds, flu, and other seasonal illnesses are more likely at this time of year. Read about ways to boost your immune system naturally.
One of the most important pieces of winter advice for the elderly is to get your flu jab if you’re eligible. Everyone aged 65 and over is eligible to receive a free flu vaccine each winter, which is designed to tackle what’s believed to be the most prevalent strain.
As well as your flu jab, make sure you’ve received your latest COVID-19 booster jab too. Our immune systems have been through a lot in the last few years, so do everything you can to keep yours protected against the latest strains.
Our cold weather advice for the elderly also includes making sure you’re taking the right vitamins to help keep your body as healthy as possible. For example, vitamin D can help to support bone health and we receive less of this nutrient naturally in the winter as our bodies are exposed to less sunlight, so you may want to consider taking a supplement. Discover what else is among the top recommended vitamins for elderly people.
It’s also important to try to eat as healthily as possible. Try to eat hearty, filling, warming meals that contain plenty of nutrients to help keep your energy levels up. If you aren’t able to prepare meals for yourself, tell a loved one what you need and make sure they know that you’re concerned about keeping healthy.
If you have any concerns about your health or wellbeing during the winter, particularly if you have persistent cold-like symptoms that you can’t seem to shift, you should always speak to your GP. They can help to rule out anything more serious – they’re the people best placed to provide winter advice for the elderly when it comes to health.
New Care: Comfortable, Luxurious, Modern Care Homes
It’s natural to worry more about elderly loved ones in the winter as the cold sets in. If you’re concerned that they’re sitting cold at home, or they’re risking loneliness by avoiding leaving the house to reduce the likelihood of winter falls, you might want to think about whether it’s time for them to move into a care home.
In a care home environment, your loved one will be warm, comfortable, and have plenty of company all year round, helping to take away your worries around how to keep elderly warm in the winter.
At New Care, we have stylish, modern, luxurious homes across Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Cheshire, Leeds, and Nottinghamshire, offering expert residential, nursing, respite, and dementia care.
Get in touch with our team today to arrange a visit to your nearest care home, or to ask any questions you might have – we’re more than happy to help.