Looking out for the elderly in winter

Winter is here, and with it comes the likelihood of below zero temperatures and unpleasant conditions. However, there are easy things we can all do to be better neighbours and carers for the elderly people we care about to help keep them comfortable, secure and warm.

As we age, we become more vulnerable in winter as we begin to react differently to a range in temperatures. When we begin to feel the cold, we normally add more layers or turning on the heating. If our body temperature drops below 37 ° C, dangerous problems such as increased heart rate and blood pressure, liver damage and heart attacks, could arise. A further risk is hypothermia if body temperature drops under 35C. Untreated, hypothermia shuts down cardiovascular and respiratory systems of the body – one of the main causes of excess winter deaths.

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Older people can make poor decisions during the winter months which may adversely affect their health and well-being. These include turning the heating down, or off, to save money; not wearing the right clothes for the weather; or not being aware of a decrease in the outside temperature.

Many older people are also living with Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, which bring further issues during the winter months, such as not remembering how to operate the heating, or fire, or putting something too close to the fire so that it becomes a risk, or they leave the house, not being completely wrapped up against the cold.

  1. If you have a senior member of the family or in your circle of friends, take turns on a regular basis to call in to check that your loved one is warm and safe. Make sure they have the right clothing for the weather and that the temperature of the room is sufficient. Also ensure the cupboards are filled with the right foods. Perhaps you think it might be time to discuss moving into a care home. For more information on Dementia Care Homes Taunton, visit a site like https://www.notarohomes.co.uk/care-home/aspen-court-dementia-nursing-home/
  2. Pop in on your neighbours and loved ones for a quick “hello”. As well as reducing their loneliness, this enables you to check the temperature of the room, and to ensure there are no fire hazards in or near the equipment. You may also wish to install a carbon monoxide alarm, particularly in the case of an older heating appliance.
  3. If you are close with the elderly person, and they feel comfortable with you in their home, why not offer to protect every window with draught excluders? Add strips of masking tape or foam around the edges, sticky-backed film or even bubble wrap to the window and door frames to help keep the warmth in.

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  1. When the roads are icy or covered with snow, offer a helping hand which will provide a welcome bit of support to someone who is finding it hard to move safely along a path. If they suffer a fall, keep them warm, seek help and do not attempt to help them up as they might have broken something. A fall really needs medical attention as an unchecked injury can cause more serious problems if it is not immediately visible, so make sure to get it checked.