Winter advice for vulnerable people

October 20, 2015

Autumn is well under way now, and once the clocks go back this weekend we’ll really start to see the colder weather setting in as we head towards winter. For most people, autumn and winter come and go without much of an issue. However, for the more vulnerable people in society, such as the elderly, disabled, and those with long-term health conditions, the colder weather can lead to a number of problems.

 

The effects of cold weather on vulnerable people

Elderly people, those with disabilities and long-term health problems, as well as children and pregnant women may be more at risk from the following cold-weather related conditions:

  • Colds and flu
  • Pneumonia
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Depression
  • Hypothermia
  • Slips and falls

 

Keep warm and stay safe

It’s really important that those who are at risk from these conditions are properly cared for during the winter months. Keeping warm and eating a healthy diet can go a long way to preventing many of the conditions listed, and we’re going to discuss in more detail all the ways that you can stay safe this winter…

 

Claim what you’re entitled to

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If you rely on a state pension, or are in receipt of certain benefits, including Universal Credit and Jobseekers Allowance, you may be entitled to claim either the Winter Fuel Payment or the Cold Weather Payment. The former is a lump sum of up to £300 for those who were born on or before July 5th 1952 (this date changes each year); while the latter is a scheme that offers £25 to people who qualify, and is paid whenever there is a consecutive 7 day period of very cold weather between November 1st and March 31st.

Both of these benefits are intended to help vulnerable people to pay their fuel bills and heat their homes properly during the winter.

 

Eat healthy hot meals

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Hot meals and drinks help to keep you warm, so it’s important to eat at least one hot meal per day during the winter, and drink plenty of hot drinks throughout the day. It’s also important to try and ensure your meals are all as healthy as possibly so that you’re getting the vitamins and minerals that your body needs to fight off infections such as cold and flu.

Try starting the day with a bowl of porridge topped with dried fruit, a bowl of vegetable soup and some bread for lunch, and a balanced meal such as roast chicken, potatoes, and vegetables for dinner.

 

Keep your home warm

You may think that it’s cheaper to have your heating on high for a shorter time, but this is not true. Turning your thermostat down a degree or two and having your heating on for a little longer will help to keep your home at a more even temperature throughout the day, without affecting your heating bill too much.

If there are any unused rooms in the house, make sure the radiators are turned off, and keep the doors closed to avoid the cold escaping into the rest of the house. It’s also a good idea to use draught excluders to prevent heat from escaping under your doors.

 

Close your curtains at the right time

On a sunny day it’s good to leave your curtains open and let the sun warm your home naturally. The sun heats things up using infrared rays, which means that objects become warmer and the ambient temperature of the room increases. As soon as the sun starts to go down, close your curtains to trap in as much of that radiant heat as possible.

 

Wear extra layers

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Several thin layers of clothing are more effective at keeping you warm than one thick layer of clothing. This is because warm air becomes trapped between each layer, and it stays close to your body to keep you warm.

When you’re in the house make sure that you’ve got several layers on, especially on your upper body in order to keep your internal organs warm. When you go outside it’s also important to layer up with vests and long-sleeved tops before putting on a winter-suitable coat, hat and scarf.

 

Move about as much as possible

Moving around causes your body to generate heat from within and helps you to stay warm. Being active is also good for your overall fitness and wellbeing too. If you’re indoors, try not to sit still for more than an hour at a time.

Get up and walk around the house if you can, or at least walk to the kitchen to make a warm drink for yourself. If you have limited mobility you can still wake up your muscles and generate heat by wiggling your arms, legs, and toes from your seated position.

 

Prevent slips and falls

Going outside on a cold day could mean walking across icy pavements, and this could lead to a fall if you’re not careful. If you really must leave the home then wear sensible shoes that have a good strong grip, and ask someone to accompany you where possible in case you do slip or fall. A slip or fall in your home during winter can be dangerous, especially for those who live alone.

If you fall and can’t get up you might not be able to get to a phone to call for help, so you may be lay there until your carer next visits. Lying on a cold floor with an injury could cause hypothermia to set in, which can lead to further complications. Wear proper shoes or sturdy slippers around the house, and lay some anti-slip rubber matting on wooden or laminate floors to prevent slips.

 

Here at UKS Mobility we stock a wide variety of household aids that can make life that little bit easier for elderly and disabled people. If you need any help or advice at all, please do get in touch and we’ll be happy to assist.