10 ways to keep warm this winter

Severe cold snaps can have a dramatic effect on everyday life, especially for the elderly.  Keeping warm in winter should be a priority. Here are some ways elderly people can look after themselves this winter.

back to Health & Wellbeing

We’d all like to stay warm and cosy 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.

1. Eat well

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. See some great winter warming recipes below.

2. Dress Warm

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.

3. 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.

4. Stay Active

Even moderate exercise can bring health benefits and moving around at least once an hour can help your circulation. Try not to sit for more than an hour at a time, even if it is just moving your arms and legs to keep warm. From about the age of 55, we lose around 1% of our muscle mass every year. It doesn’t sound a lot, but muscle is what keeps us warm.

5. 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.

6. Use Microwaveable Heating Pads

Heating pads are fairly inexpensive, and they can make a huge difference when you’re cold. Use a heating pad on your hands and feet when you’re sitting or lying down to feel considerably warmer overall. Of course, you could look at an electric blanket but you must be careful to turn it off as you go to sleep.  Amazon has a good choice depending on what you want it for. You can even make a basic heating pad yourself by sewing dried beans inside a piece of 100 per cent cotton fabric, which you then can microwave in 30-second increments until it’s at your desired temperature.

7. Clear Heat Vents, Registers, and Radiators

It’s recommended to have your heating system inspected annually, ideally before the cold weather arrives and you must rely on it to heat your home. It’s also important to make sure the heat can adequately warm your space. Pull furniture, curtains, and other items away from heat vents, registers, and radiators. If they’re blocked, the heat won’t be able to circulate.

8. Spend More Time Upstairs

Hot air rises. So if you have multiple levels to your home, aim to spend more time on the upper level to take advantage of the warmer air there. You could even move your home office or TV from downstairs to upstairs over the colder months to have a cosier setting.

9. 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.

10. Keep your hands clean

Good hand hygiene is an easy way to avoid getting colds or flu and stop it from spreading.


Check out the benefits and grants available to help with insulation and energy efficiency, such as co find out more follow the links provided below:

Further information:

NHS advice on staying warm 
NHS Flu vaccine information

Winter-Warming recipes