With Winter just around the corner, now is the time to take precautions to make sure everyone stays safe and healthy in the colder weather.

Older people are particularly at risk of injury or health problems but fortunately there are several preventative steps that can easily be taken to protect them during the colder months to come.

Combat the risk of colds and flu

Flu season peaks from November through to March. Older adults have weaker immune systems making them vulnerable to airborne viruses. For them, flu can be particularly dangerous because it can lead to more serious conditions such as pneumonia. 

A flu vaccine from your GP  is available for people aged 65 and over, and others with existing health conditions, so make sure if you’re eligible that you’ve had your flu jab!

Check your heating

Now is a good time to bleed your radiators, check the thermostat, re-set the timer, and make sure your boiler and any gas fires have been serviced by a qualified engineer. This will ensure your heating system is working efficiently and performing at its best. 

Thermostats should be set to at least 68-70F / 20-21C.

Be cautious with electric blankets and fan heaters

These devices provide a tempting source of extra heat, but they can be hazardous. Fan heaters can pose a fire risk if left unattended, and electric blankets can result in burns if used by older adults who may have trouble sensing when they are becoming overheated.

If there is any danger that devices such as these may be forgotten and left unattended, it is better to get rid of them and resort to extra layers of clothing and blankets rather than risk a fire or injury.

Layering up!

It may sound obvious but it is important to make sure that older people living on their own have a plentiful supply of warm clothing readily available so they can easily layer up to keep warm. Extra blankets are also useful, not only for the bed but also by an armchair for use when watching television or relaxing.

Choose appropriate footwear

Falls are the number one cause of hospital admissions for older adults. To avoid slipping in freezing conditions outside it’s important to ensure people have well fitting footwear with non-slip soles.

Better still perhaps, make sure they are well stocked up with food and supplies so they don’t feel the need to venture outside when the weather is bad.

Know the signs of hypothermia

Hypothermia is a condition that occurs when a person’s body temperature gets extremely low. It is particularly dangerous for older adults, who tend to lose body heat much faster than when they were young. 

We often think of hypothermia as only occurring after someone is outside in the cold weather, but the condition can even happen indoors if the temperature is too low. Be aware of these signs of hypothermia:

Cold hands and feet

Poor balance

Puffy or swollen face

Pale skin

Shivering

Slower than normal speech, or slurred speech

Unusual sleepiness

Acting confused or irritable

Slow heartbeat

Slow or shallow breathing

Gaining peace of mind

These winter safety tips are important for anyone, but they are especially important for older adults living on their own. If you’re concerned about your parent or loved one at home alone during the winter months, home carers can provide invaluable support in enabling people to maintain their independence while still getting the extra support they need to stay healthy and safe.

Aspire Home Carers provide an outstanding level of care for older people living in the Folkestone area. Offering a wide range of services tailored to meet the needs of each individual, our aim is to promote independence, offer choice, and improve health and wellbeing. Please give us a ring on 01303 767121 to discuss your needs and find out how we could support you.