Unfortunately, many more people over the age of 65 die in the winter months in the UK than at any other time of the year. Elderly people are more susceptible to illness during the winter months. The cold weather suppresses the immune system, increasing the risk of catching colds and flu. This coupled with the fact that we spend a lot more time indoors in poorly ventilated rooms which encourages the spread of viruses.
Below are several ways you can help elderly loved ones this winter.
Watch Out for Illness
When you visit, look out for any signs of illness. Do they seem drowsy? Is their home cold, but they don’t seem to be aware? Have they got a hacking cough? These are all signs that they have some kind of health problem that can be especially risky in winter.
Keep Them Warm
An important point surrounding the care of the elderly is to make sure their home is warm. Older people take longer to get warm than younger people and lose heat more quickly. As they are also often less active than younger people it is easy for them to get cold fast without realising it.
The home should be kept to at least 18 degrees Celsius, and they should wear enough clothing to be warm. A hot water bottle (especially for those who are less mobile) is a good way to keep warm both in bed and when sitting in the living room.
Offer a Helping Hand
If you know an elderly person who lives alone or has poor health, then ask if you can do something for them this winter. Sometimes something as simple as picking up prescriptions, helping with shopping or putting out the rubbish is enough. Not only will you be doing something practical to improve their life, but they’ll know that somebody is looking out for them, which can boost their confidence.
Just Be There
Research by Age UK revealed that every month more than one million elderly people don’t get to speak to family, a friend or a neighbour. Quite often, care for the elderly doesn’t involve much at all. Older people don’t always need help, but most people like someone to talk to. So make sure you take the time to call them or drop in for a cup of tea and a chat. The important thing is just to be there and to listen.