Keeping warm and well at home
In England and Wales over the last ten years there has been an average of 26,700 excess winter deaths. Older people who live in poorly insultated, cold homes are more likely to become seriously ill during the winter. The cold weather causes a spike in health problems; heart attacks, strokes, pneumonia, depression, worsening arthritis and increased accidents at home. The longer an older person is exposed to the more at risk they are.
Age UK is promoting messages to encourage older people to protect their health; keeping the living room temperature at 70F (21c) and the bedroom at 65F (18c), keep the bedroom window closed at night when the weather is cold, wrap up warm and layer clothing - choose clothes made from wool, cotton or fleecy fabrics if possible. Draw the curtains as soon as it gets dark to stop heat escaping and keep windows and internal doors closed. We loose a lot of heat through the head and neck, it may sound silly but it is good advice to wear a hat and scarf if you're chilly. If sitting down a shawl or blanket will provide extra warmth, try also to keep feet up because the air is cooler at ground level.
We can all play a part in keeping older relatives and neighbours safe and well during the winter. Check on them on a regular basis, make sure they're warm enough,especially at night, and have stocks of food and medicines so they don't need to go out during very cold weather. Age UK and The NHS have good advice on keeping warm, help with the heating costs and ways to keep the fuel bills down.