We can all play our part to be good neighbours and CareGivers to help keep loved ones safe, warm and comfortable this Winter. As a provider of homecare, we often see our Clients making decisions during the winter months which can have an adverse impact on their health and wellbeing. This includes turning the heating down, or off, to save money; not wearing the right clothing for the weather; or being unaware of the temperature drop outside.
We also have a number of Clients living with Dementia and Alzheimer’s, which presents its own challenges in the winter, such as forgetting how to operate the heating, or fire, or placing something too close to a fire so it becomes a risk, or they leave the house, not properly wrapped up against the cold.
At Right at Home, as professional CareGivers we are alert to the older members of our community. But as friendly and caring neighbours, we also care about those living around us. Based on our experiences, we would like to share our top tips to help us all be aware of people in our community, who may need a little extra support this winter.
1. Ask your loved ones to wear layers of ‘easy to remove’ clothing to help stay warm. Layers can then be taken off or put on depending on how warm or cold someone is feeling and this is also warmer than one thick layer, as your body warms the air between them.
2. Remind your elderly relatives to eat little and often to make sure their body has plenty of nutrition to protect itself against Winter. Encourage your loved ones to eat warming foods such as stew and hearty/chunky soups. Try to avoid too many sandwiches and cold foods.
3. Encourage elderly friends and relatives to keep moving to help the muscles and bones stay active, as well as to help stay warm. Even if they’re chair-bound, consider some ‘armchair athletics’ to keep body parts active.
4. Make sure your loved ones are staying hydrated. Even in winter, it is important to maintain fluid levels. As well as having a glass or bottle of water close to hand, perhaps also keep a flask of tea close by.
5. Organise your relative’s medications to ensure they don’t run out. Make sure they/you order the prescriptions ahead of time, just in case there is bad weather or they’re too unwell to go to the pharmacy. Also ask your pharmacy if they can deliver, if they don’t usually do this.
6. Make sure your loved ones are protected from chilblains. Chilblains are itchy red swellings that occur when your skin gets cold and you try to warm up too quickly, often by sitting close to a radiator or other heating.
7. Encourage your relatives to get outside. It’s important to remain as active as possible. Encourage them to get out into their garden for a brief walk or around the neighbourhood to ensure they’re getting vitamin D and endorphins.
8. If you know your relative or neighbour is prone to depression, consider getting them a SAD lamp (discuss with your doctor who will be able to advise on good and affordable brands).
9. Encourage socialising. It’s easy for older people to start feeling lonely at this time of year.
10. Fit thermal linings to your loved one’s curtains, draw their curtains as soon as it gets dark and keep all windows and doors closed. Maybe even get a draft excluder for their front and back door!
11. Encourage your elderly relatives to moisturise! Moisturising will improve circulation and blood flow. It can reduce the chance of developing extreme dryness or oiliness.
12. Encourage your loved one to wear thermal undergarments for extra insulation!
13. Always have extra blankets to hand!
14. Encourage elderly relatives to wear two pairs of socks, a hat and gloves. These extremities are where you lose heat most rapidly.
15. Make sure your loved ones are keeping their heating on low, throughout long periods of cold temperatures. It’s actually cheaper and more efficient than putting it on for several short blasts.