HOW TO KEEP WARM IN WINTER
Severe cold snaps can have a dramatic effect on everyday life, especially for the elderly. Keeping warm in winter should be a priority – but it’s increasingly necessary to economise and find ways to maintain comfortable temperatures on a budget. The elderly often spend much more time at home than younger people in full-time work. If you’re at home throughout the day you’ll be looking at funding up to twice as much heating, with the potentially limited means of your pension. By taking some simple precautions most people can be prepared for a cold winter. There are several ways for elderly people to stay warm this winter.
Hot meals and hot drinks will leave you with a warm glow for long after the final sip. Consider switching breakfast cereals for a hot bowl of porridge to give you a boost of warmth at the beginning of the day, or substituting a cold salad for a healthy soup. It's important to eat enough and have a balanced diet. Keep basic food items in the cupboard or freezer in case it's too cold to get out.
Have a yearly flu jab
Flu is an unpleasant and disruptive illness for most of us but for the elderly, flu can lead to more serious complications such as bronchitis and pneumonia. Flu vaccinations are free on the NHS if you’re over 65. Contact your local GP.
This may seem obvious but there are a few secrets to dressing for winter which can help make your winter clothing more effective. Firstly – layer up. Lots of thin layers can be more effective than a few thick items of clothing because each layer traps warm air, and gives you plenty of scope to adjust your temperature by degrees if you get too warm. A thin vest and thermal leggings can do more to keep you warm than a heavy knitted jumper. Secondly – keep your feet warm. People who are at home during the day in winter will know that you can lose a lot of heat through your feet and your head. Use hot water bottles or electric blankets to warm the bed, however never use them together as this can be dangerous. When it’s really cold, wear thermal underwear, bed socks and even a hat.
Keep your hands clean
Good hand hygiene is an easy way to avoid getting colds or flu and stop it spreading.
Protect yourself from chilblains
Chilblains are itchy red swellings that happen when your skin gets too cold and you try to warm up too quickly, usually by sitting too close to a radiator. Keep warm to prevent chilblains. If you get a chilblain don't scratch it as this could cause an infection. Most people don't need to seek medical advice if they have chilblains as they usually heal within a few weeks and don't cause any permanent problems.
Even moderate exercise can bring health benefits and move around at least once an hour can help your circulation.
Keeping your house warm
Have your heating system serviced and chimney swept regularly. Check your water stopcock is working properly. Always check the local weather forecast so you can prepare accordingly. Keep doors and windows closed in cold weather to keep the heat in, use draft excluders to stop cold air flowing through your home. Fit thermal linings to your curtains if you can – this will also help to keep the heat in.
Check out the benefits and grants available to help with insulation and energy efficiency, such as cavity wall insulation.
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