With Christmas fast approaching the weather has dropped and we could be in for a good two or three months of cold weather. This is a time when we need to remember the elderly in our families and in our community. Fuel poverty and social isolation means many of our elderly relatives and neighbours will be feeling trapped, unable to get out and about to get the necessities in such as basic food. Another problem the elderly have to deal with is poorly insulated homes which mean the heating they may be struggling to pay for is not keeping rooms warm at all. The rise in domestic energy prices and the lack of mobility to keep moving and warm can all be detrimental to older people’s health.
When you get older it takes longer to warm up which can be bad for your health. The cold thickens blood and increases blood pressure, and breathing in cold air can increase the risk of chest infections. This is why it is important to keep the heating on and ensure rooms are of an adequate temperature. The ideal temperature for a living room is 21°C and 18°C for the bedroom.
So what can we do to help?
Well for one we can offer to do their shopping for them to ensure they have all the food basics. Eating well in the winter is important for our health. For the really less able the saftest place is indoors which means shopping trips become a hazard. We can offer ourselves as a bit of light entertainment as it’s not unusual to feel a bit down in winter especially if the cold weather is stopping them from getting about and about. Talk to them about the flu jab and also the ‘pneumo’ jab which over 65’s get for free. With regards to energy costs check out the supplier and ensure they are on the best tariff and that they have applied for their fuel allowance. Perhaps take a look at swapping supplier as many older people keep with the same supplier as they think changing is too much bother. Use the internet for comparison sites and see if they could be getting a better deal. If your parents or elderly relatives are financially secure maybe you could mention they consider donating their winter fuel allowance to someone more needy.
For those that are on the cheapest energy supplier and tarriff but are still struggling to meet the cost take a look at their fininaces and what their money goes on. You might find that they are paying for food in the most expensive shops or have some out going expenses which can be dropped.
Tips for keeping warm & healthy this winter
Wear several think layers of clothing rather than one thick layer
Keep rooms at the ideal temperature (living room should be 21°C – bedroom should be 18°C)
Try to keep active
One other thing you could do to help is see what is happening in their community. More and more organisations are popping up with are designed to help the elderly and all these issues which a younger person would have no problem dealing with. Also it is wise to keep a mixture of salt and sand handy for when the ice is a problem on outside paths and walk ways.