Wintertime in the UK means darker evenings, and enjoying more cosy moments with family and friends indoors. But the shorter days and freezing temperatures can pose challenges and perils, especially for older adults. Whether staying indoors or venturing outside, you can help your elderly loved ones mitigate risks and ensure a safe Winter by following these suggestions.
Seniors generally produce less body heat than younger people, so to keep body temperature up, make sure they eat hot, nourishing meals and drink warm beverages throughout the day.
Layering clothing and bedding is a tried-and-tested way to stay warm and comfortable. Nothing beats long underwear to maintain core heat. A hat, earmuffs, scarf, gloves, warm socks, and waterproof, insulated boots are “musts” in fluctuating temperatures and conditions.
Look Out for the Warning Signs of Hypothermia
As body temperature drops, older adults tend to shiver less or not at all, so look for other signs. Cold skin that appears ashy, weakness, sleepiness, and confusion are all indications that body temperature has dipped dangerously low.
When outside, cover up all extremities. Frostbite usually affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers, and toes — and people with heart disease and other circulation problems are especially susceptible. Skin that turns red or dark or starts hurting is a sure-fire sign that it’s time to go inside right away. Should frostbite occur (signs are skin that feels numb and hard or waxy), place affected areas in warm water and seek medical help.
Get a Flu Jab
Flu can be especially severe for seniors. It can worsen existing health problems and be life threatening for those with heart disease and diabetes. The NHS offers a free flu jab to anyone aged 65 and over.
Prepare for Emergencies
During winter months, stock water stored in clean containers and food that needs no cooking or refrigeration. Also keep handy an up-to-date emergency kit that includes first-aid supplies and a battery-operated radio and flashlights.
Keep in Touch
Communication is key to ensuring safety and warding off loneliness. Before heading out, seniors should notify a friend or relative of their proposed route and expected time of arrival and return home. And setting up a system of daily check-ins with caregivers, neighbours, and friends should be an imperative.
Staying aware and being prepared for what winter can bring will get elders through the season in good form — whether bracing the elements or getting cosy until spring arrives!