With the cold weather now well and truly upon us, and winter just around the corner, it’s normal to feel concerned about your loved ones, particularly any elderly friends or relatives who may be living on their own through these chilly months. Although winter-related mortality fell in 2013/14, there were still over 18,000 preventable deaths in England and Wales alone, with the most vulnerable group being those aged 75 and over. So what can you do to help your loved ones to get through this time safely?
Check up on them regularly
The most important thing is to keep in contact with them regularly – ideally you should visit them in person, but if this is not practical, a daily phone call to check in with them and make sure that they have everything they need will help give you peace of mind, as well as bringing them the comfort of knowing that someone is looking out for them.
Make sure they stay warm safely
Speak to them about their heating and make sure their thermostat is set to an adequate temperature. It should be around 21oC in living rooms; bedrooms can go down to 18oC, but electric blankets or hot water bottles can also be used to boost temperature. You should also make sure that they have sufficient winter clothing and blankets. If you have any concern regarding their heating system, arrange for a qualified engineer to assess it. If they use gas, make sure that a carbon monoxide alarm has been fitted and that they know to leave air vents unblocked. If you have any concern about how your loved one will pay for heating during the winter, you can find out about the help available for winter fuel payments at Age UK.
Encourage them to stay healthy
Make sure your loved ones eat well by incorporating a variety of fruit and vegetables into their diet, and ensure that they have at least one hot meal per day. If they cook for themselves, make sure that their cupboards and freezer are well stocked in case it is too difficult for them to get to the shops during very cold spells. Encourage them to take advantage of government health initiatives such as the flu vaccine, free to anyone over 65, as well as those with underlying health conditions and weak immune systems.
Help them to avoid accidents
When ice or snow cover roads and pavements, accidents are far more likely to happen, and as elderly people are far more vulnerable to injury than younger adults, the repercussions of a slip or fall can be far more serious. If your loved one is likely to venture out in inclement weather, ask them whether you or another volunteer can run their errands for them, or accompany them on their outing. You can also assist by gritting the path and driveway surrounding their property and offer to shovel snow for them. If your loved one usually drives, suggest that they leave the car at home until the weather improves, and offer help and assistance where you can.
How Sova Healthcare can help
We know that as much as you care about your loved ones, it is not always practical to care for them, particularly if you live far away or work full time. We offer an extensive range of flexible care options, which are tailored to you, so we can offer as much or as little support as you require, allowing you to rest easy, safe in the knowledge that your loved ones are being looked after. If you’d like to find out more about how Sova Healthcare can help you, please get in touch with us today.