It’s very important for all of us to keep warm and well throughout the winter. For the vulnerable and elderly it could be a matter of life and death.

Warm blankets

We work hard to ensure that everyone we care for is warm and happy at home throughout the colder months. Yet, on average in England there are calculated to be 25,000 excess winter deaths every year*. As well as falling victim to infectious diseases like flu, there is also evidence that many of the deaths are related to colder temperatures. So, what can we do to help ourselves, our elderly friends and relatives?

Keep warm at home

For those of us with a lack of movement or mobility and/or are 65 and over, keep your home temperature at, at least 18C. This applies especially if you have a chronic health issue like a lung or heart condition. Try and keep this temperature in your bedroom at night. You may feel you need it a little higher during the daytime and do ensure you wear plenty of clothes to keep warm. Using a hot water bottle or electric blanket is also a good idea in bed – but don’t use them together.

Eat well

Food is an energy source and energy keeps our bodies warm. Having additional hot drinks in-between nutritious hot meals will help and trying to keep moving and active if you are able.

 Wrap up

Keep yourself warm by wearing plenty of thin layers. Fabrics like cotton, wool or fleecy material help keep in your body heat and are very good. Have a cosy pair of slippers for inside and good, stout, grippy shoes for outside to help prevent falls in icy weather. If you have a heart or lung condition it’s best to remain inside when the weather is very cold.

Keep active

Keeping active will keep you warm. It’s good all year round and even moderate exercise brings big health benefits. Try not to sit still for more than an hour. If the weather is poor think about how you can keep moving at home. Do speak to your GP before beginning any exercise plan. If you have a pet, when conditions are very cold, ask for support with their exercise for their wellbeing and your peace of mind.

Please remember to keep an eye on your elderly friends and relatives when the temperatures drop.

Born before 5th July 1953? Then you qualify for a Winter Fuel Payment of between £100 and £300 tax-free. Find out more about the Winter Fuel Payment and Cold Weather Payment

*NHS Choices