9 tips to help the elderly during winter months
Sadly over 8,500 elderly people die each year in cold homes. Even with the temperature conditions in the UK, people are still finding themselves cold and alone in the winter months.
So how can you make sure your older relatives, friends and neighbours are safe and looked after?
One good way is to plan in advance.
Please have a look at the following guide on how to help the elderly in the winter months.
9 tips to help elderly relatives during the winter
1. Stock up
The first step in your winter emergency preparation is to stock up on essentials. This covers a lot of different areas, from foodstuffs to medication.
Fill up your family members/friend’s pantry with preservable goods. Tins and dried goods are a great way to ensure they’ll have a supply of food should they be unable to visit the supermarket.
If you plan ahead, you could even cook some meals for them and pop them in the freezer, so that they’ll always have food available over the winter months.
After this, please check their prescription medications.
Ideally, they will need seven days’ worth of medicines on hand. Supplement this with a fully stocked first aid kit.
You should also check any other goods they may need, including batteries, a flashlight, blankets and layers.
2. Encourage them to exercise
It’s so important that the elderly try to keep occupied during the winter months, both for their physical health and mental well-being.
Regular exercise will help keep their body temperature up, keep joints mobile and increase their appetite. If they can’t exercise outdoors, then check your local council’s facilities. They may have events and activities that include a pick-up and drop off service.
At the very least, make sure they try and do some exercise indoors. These days you can get a wide range of affordable home gym equipment that is low impact and will help to keep your elderly relatives mobile until the weather improves and they can get outside again.
Also take a look on YouTube. There are hundreds of workouts available to stream such as this 15 Minute Low Impact Workout for Seniors.
3. Install a stairlift
If your elderly family members / friends have stairs in their property, these can often be a cause for concern.
For those that are struggling to climb the stairs or are worried about having a fall, you may want to look into getting a stairlift installed for them.
Nowadays, there’s a wide range of models for even the trickiest of staircases. From stairs that are straight and narrow to those that have a number of bends, known as curved stairs, there are plenty of options available.
You can also get stairlifts with some really helpful, additional features too such as a powered swivel seat, automatic footrest and/or hinge, making it much easier and safer to get on and off or to avoid a trip hazard.
For more information, please speak to an expert (like ourselves!) and get a free assessment to determine the best solution for their home.
4. Clean Pathways
Clearing pathways during the bad weather is one of the more important safety precautions, so be sure to do this regularly for your elderly relatives, friends and neighbours. It can be dangerous for them to attempt it themselves, as there’s a real risk of them slipping or falling and hurting themselves.
To prepare for this, make sure you stock up on a bag of coarse salt and a good, wide shovel. This will ensure that you can be ready to grit paths or steps for them before any heavy frosts. In the event of snow, these areas can be cleared quickly and easily.
If you’re worried about your relative/friend going up or down stairs outside, you may want to consider having an outdoor stairlift fitted for them which will make their journey much safer.
5. Insulate Your Home
It is well known that being cold presents a number of additional health risks. Dehydration is one of the main offenders. Therefore, it is important to make sure they keep the temperature in their home as warm as possible and prevent draughts.
One excellent way of doing this is by ensuring their home is fully insulated. Make sure any attics have good insulation that hasn’t deteriorated and add draught excluders to both doors and windows.
Take time to understand how to correctly set their thermostat as this will help save energy. If they don’t already have one, you could suggest investing in a smart thermostat for their home.
This would allow you to control the temperature from your mobile device, letting you increase it during cold snaps for them, which is especially useful if you aren’t able to pop in to do this for them and ensures you can check in and help your relatives keep warm from anywhere.
6. Make sure your car is ready
If your elderly relative or friend is still driving, then make sure they are safe when on the road.
Ensure they get their tyres checked before winter starts. They may even want to consider switching to winter tyres or use snow chains if they live in the countryside or on high ground where the weather can be worse.
Make sure they have an emergency first aid kit in the car just in case they get stuck. This should include a small shovel, a set of jump-leads, a hi-vis jacket, as well as a blanket, a bottle of water and some energy maintaining snacks.
7. Mobile phones
If they have a mobile phone, please ensure they keep it close at hand, fully charged and pre-programmed with all the emergency contact numbers they may need, from local services to family and friends.
The same goes for house phones too.
Please help your elderly relatives, friends and neighbours to do this as it may well save their life.
8. Eliminate the risk of fire
Luckily, there are very few fire risks in modern homes. Most used to start from old electrical items, or chip pans left unattended. That being said, please take a look at their appliances and make sure they’re all safe to use and checked by a professional if needed.
Also, it’s very important to test any warning alarms they have in their home, such as smoke detectors, or fire and carbon monoxide alarms. Again, please check and replace their batteries regularly, to ensure they are all in good working order.
9. Help the Elderly
Hopefully, the above tips (along with this one!) will help you prepare effectively for the winter, so you can keep your elderly family members and friends safe and warm.
It would be good to create a checklist for each of the items above well in advance, so you have time to get any items you need from the shops.
Also, it’s important to stay connected with family and friends to make sure they’re OK and to check and see if there’s anything else they need. If they live alone they’ll appreciate you checking in, even if it’s just for a good old natter.
If you have an elderly relative who lives far away from you, there are voluntary organisations that can help deliver shopping and pick up prescriptions in most areas. Find out more here.
Leodis Stairlifts provide a wide range of very affordable solutions to keep your friends and family safe and able to carry on living independently in their own homes.
Get in touch and we can send one of our friendly surveyors to carry out a free, no obligation home survey.