Caring for the elderly in winter
Colds, flu & Pneumonia are all more common in the winter months. The elderly become more vulnerable to illness in winter due to the cold weather which suppresses the immune system and makes them more susceptible to not only colds and flu but to having breathing problems and cardiovascular conditions such as heart attacks.
In This Section
Check that anyone you know over 65 has had their free flu jab from the NHS. The vaccination will greatly reduce the chance of contracting the flu virus which without the jab could develop into bronchitis and pneumonia. Find out more.
How to HELP
Visit more often
It is really important at this time of year to be vigilant for signs of illness in elderly relatives and neighbours. Increasing your visits means you will be alerted sooner to any potential problems. Keep a check on the temperature of their house, if it is cold, but they don’t seem to be aware or if they seem drowsy then this could be a sign of a health problem.
keep them warm
It is easy for the elderly to get cold quickly and without realising it especially when they are not active and they also lose heat quicker than younger people. Their home should be kept to at least 18 degrees Celsius and they should wear plenty of clothes to keep warm. Other things that you can do to help warm them up/keep them warm could be:
- Wrap them in warm blankets
- Get them to wear a woolly hat
- Drink plenty of warm drinks like tea, coffee or hot chocolate.
- Get them a hot water bottle
With the heating on most of the time it is also important that boilers and gas appliances are checked by a qualified engineer. Read more about carbon monoxide poisoning.
Ask if you can help
Older people can be reluctant to ask for help. In many cases they would prefer to struggle along than admit to themselves that they need help however even simple things can make all the difference through the winter months. You could offer to:
- Pick up a prescription
- Help with shopping
- Put the bins out
- Help to make the bed or change sheets.
Sometimes the elderly just require some company
“Research by Age UK revealed that every month more than one million elderly people don’t get to speak to family, a friend or a neighbour.”
Winter can be a very depressing time for older people, they may not like to venture out of the house often for fear of slipping or falling so just taking the time to call in for a quick chat and a drink can make all the difference to someone that hasn’t been out of the house for a while.
Word from our GP
Also remember if you receive a Carer’s allowance, or you’re the main Carer for an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if you fall ill you can have a free flu vaccination. Further information available here.
Dr Tony Crane, Pencoed Medical Centre
Things to remember
- It is really important for people of 65 to get a flu jab. Contact us now if you need to make an appointment.
- Keep the house warm – above 18 degrees Celsius .. Read more about help with heating costs.
- Ask how you can help.
- Read our Top 10 tips to avoid getting a cold this winter.