When the temperature drops it is a dangerous time for the elderly. The cold weather can cause severe illness and many elderly could die prematurely from the cold this winter.
When winter come around 210 peopled aged 65+ die in England and Wales each day. But these are preventable deaths so this article is going to talk about how we can prevent these tragic and unnecessary deaths.
If you have an elderly relative or neighbour, make it your business to ensure they are ready for the winter. Many of this is common sense but its when one of these simple measures is overlooked, problems can occur.
- Flu Jab
Firstly anyone over 65 should get a free flu jab. Flu can be quite serious for anyone over 65. It can lead to pneumonia or bronchitis which in the worst cases can even lead to death. This is why the elderly and anyone with long term heath problem should get the free flu jab. Anyone over a certain age should have been invited to get this free flu jab. But if haven’t or know someone who hasn’t, phone up their doctors and get them booked in.
- Stock up on cold remedies
Always make sure you have plenty of over the counter cough and cold remedies. Encourage your elderly relatives or neighbours to keep plenty of remedies available so if they suddenly feel ill they can treat it at home without venturing out into the cold.
- Wrap up
Wrapping up warm could save hundreds of lives. Colder countries do not get excess winter deaths because they know how to keep themselves warm. We need to encourage the elderly to ware more warm layers, even indoors. Thermal underwear that fit under regular clothing should be encouraged and no skid socks and slippers. Clothes made from cotton, wool or fleecy materials are particularly good and help to maintain body heat. Always ensure they are wearing scarfs, gloves an a hat when venturing outside. Also encourage warmer clothing for bed.
- Eat healthily
Eating regular healthy foods is important to keep energy levels up which in tern help to fight any infections. Planning meals is a good idea and aim for plenty of fruit and vegetables to ensure they get their 5 a day.
- Stock up
Stocking up on food ready for winter will stop the elderly having to go out too much when its cold. Ensure they have plenty of tins of food and frozen food.
- Heat homes appropriately
Set the main living from so the temperatures is around 21°C (70°F). The bedroom should be 18°C (65°F) and the rest of the house at least 16°C (61°F). Use a timer to set the heating to come up just before they get up and so it goes off once they have gone to bed. Encourage them to keep close curtains and shut doors to keep heat in the rooms they use most.
- Use a blanket or hot water bottle
When sitting around the house, encourage the elderly to use a blanket and keep their feet off the floors. Electric blankets are great for bed but should never be used with a hot water bottle. Make sure they choose one or the other.
- Keep energy bills down
Encourage your elderly relatives to switch off TVs and anything they use rather then letting them sit on standby. Many elderly use gas cookers to heat the home which is not advisable. This can be very dangerous due to the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Homes should be properly insulated which will help keep the heating costs down. Check the tariffs for energy bills. Use a comparison site like comparethemarket.com. James Padmore from comparethemarket.com said his firm’s research showed 65 to 79 year olds who changed energy provider saved on average £530, but that age group made up only nine per cent of those who switched.
- Offer to help
Offer to help with any of these issues. If you know they are on an expensive tariff suggest you offer to compare their bills. All they need to give you is their monthly or yearly costs and the company and tarif they are on, and you can check what they can save on one of the many comparison sites. If they see it written down and the savings that can be had, they will be more interested in going ahead and switching. Also explain that switching is very straightforward and nothing to worry about.
- Watch the news and weather
Check local news and weather forecasts for advice when the really cold weather is predicted. If the local weather presenter is predicting snow or really icy cold weather in a few days time, NOW is the time to ensure the elderly are stocked up on food and have plenty of warm clothing to see them through this period. Offer to take them out and get all they need.
Prevention is key. Being prepared for when a cold snap hits will help to keep the elderly warm and safe when the freezing weather kicks in.