How can you protect your loved ones this winter

How can you protect your loved ones this winter

Author: Philippa Thompson

As we head into the colder months of the year, most children throughout the country are hoping for a 'snow day'. They love nothing more than building snowmen with their friends, sledging down the hill, having an unexpected day off school, watching films, and drinking hot chocolate.

However, the cold weather can bring worry for the older people amongst us. Ice and snow pose real dangers both inside and out. From heating breakdowns to falling on the ice, it is no fun at all for them. So how can you help to make life safer for older people through the cold winter months?

Keeping warm at home

It has been hard to miss the significant rise in fuel prices with even more hikes expected next year. For older people with lower incomes, they can face a difficult choice between staying warm or eating throughout the winter months. Evidence from charities like AgeUK shows that this leads to many having to minimise their heating use, even in the coldest of cold snaps! If you have a friend or relative in this position, here are a few things you can do to help them stay warm.

    1. Ensure the heating or lights are only in the rooms they are using. Heating rooms that don’t get used is a waste of electricity.
    2. Check they receive all grants and benefits they are entitled to, including insulation grants, Winter Fuel Payment, or Cold Weather Payment.
    3. Make sure they do not have hot water on all the time as this increases fuel bills , also check the heating is working well and a time is set to switch it on and off at the correct times.
    4. If they use portable heaters, make sure they are safe and not a trip hazard. Also, ensure smoke and CO2 alarms are installed and working correctly.

    Avoid slips and falls

    A slip or fall is unpleasant for anyone. However, as you get older, falls can become more devastating - even seemingly minor ones. Older people are at risk of more physical damage such as bruising, broken bones or other injuries, plus falls can also really damage their confidence. Whilst you can’t altogether remove the risk of falls, there are a few things you can do to help alleviate some of the risks.

      1. Offer to go to the shops for them when it is icy, so they don’t have to go out on the ice. If they want to remain independent, offer to go with them and support them to ensure they don’t fall or slip.
      2. Only use salt to remove ice and snow; warm water will melt the ice on the ground. However, it is likely to refreeze and result in more treacherous conditions than before.
      3. Encourage the use of the delivery services for prescriptions, food shopping, clothing and so on
      4. Correct footwear will make a world of difference. Ensure your loved one has suitable warm shoes with good grip! Strong support on the foot and ankle will help prevent falls.

      Other things you can do to help

      1. Encourage your loved ones to wear plenty of layers. It may seem obvious, but getting dressed may become more challenging as we grow older. For ease, older people may just put one thick item of clothing on, rather than multiple layers.
      2. Sometimes the weather, combined with shorter daylight hours, can mean it is too dangerous for older people to venture outside. Visiting your elderly loved ones will put your mind at ease that they are safe and you are providing them with company and conversation that may be the only human interaction they have that day.
      3. A balanced diet is essential all year round, but our body uses more calories to keep us warm when it is cold. Having smaller, regular meals that are easy to heat are ideal for getting extra calories throughout the day.

      Life at Dower House

      The whole team at The Dower House works tirelessly throughout the year, ensuring residents receive well-balanced meals, have plenty of activities to participate in, and have lots of social time.

      Meryl and her fantastic kitchen team work hard to ensure all our residents get nutritious, tasty meals throughout the whole year! If you’d like to join us for a tour of the house and grounds, we would be delighted to arrange an appointment. Simply give us a call on 01962 882848.

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