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Planning Retirement Online

How to combat winter threats


January 2014

The winter months can be challenging to anyone, with cold temperatures and adverse weather conditions making it harder to stay warm and active, particularly for the elderly. Check out this guide to dealing with the most common winter threats.


There seems to be a general consensus that UK winters are getting colder, with sub-zero temperatures and snow causing widespread disruption in recent years. And whilst traffic queues, school closures and airport delays are inconvenient to the wider public, the weather can pose a serious threat to the health of elderly people.
Every winter, thousands of older people in the UK become seriously ill as a result of the weather, whilst many also end up losing their lives.  Yet so much of the harm caused during the colder months could be avoided. Sometimes friends and family simply can't meet the needs of a vulnerable elderly person, which is why the NHS have called upon thousands of volunteers to assist older people in need of help this winter.

Read on to discover how best to deal with the winter months…

Care homes
According to Age UK, over half of those aged 75 and over live alone  in the UK. Not only does this leave them more vulnerable in the event of a health problem, but it can also have a significant impact on their mental well-being.
For many, a stay in a care home could prove to be the ideal solution. Many care home facilities cater for both short and long term stays, with the former often a great way for an elderly person to enjoy some much needed company, warmth and healthy meals. Those coping with ongoing health conditions, meanwhile, can benefit from 24 hour care and attention, which could be just the ticket for negotiating those dark winter months.

Keeping warm
Rising energy bills and inadequate insulation means heating your home during winter can become very costly indeed. This is particularly worrying for pensioners, so it's important to assess what financial assistance is available to you. The UK government runs a Winter Fuel Payments scheme which can contribute up to £300 towards the energy bills of those born on or before July 5 1952.
When it comes to heating your home, prioritise the rooms you use the most. Ensure your bedroom is warm at night, whilst the focus should be on the living room during the day. It's also important to consume plenty of hot drinks and meals throughout the day, as food plays a vital role in keeping your body warm.
Eating well will stand you in good stead when venturing outside, provided you wrap up well. It's advisable to wear layers and use shoes that have a good grip, in order to best protect you against slippery surfaces.

Stock up and prepare
Heavy snowfall and icy conditions can sometimes result in people being housebound for days on end. Running out of food and supplies can pose a serious risk to your wellbeing, so it's important to stock up on some key items just to be on the safe side.
Tinned food can provide you with a good reserve supply, whilst products such as bread, vegetables and meat will keep well in the freezer.
Also see to that you have adequate amounts of medicine, as well as candles and a torch in the event of a power outage. These are small, practical steps that can give you peace of mind during the worst cold snaps.

Friends and family
Keeping in regular contact with friends and family will not only help combat loneliness, but also keep you safe. Even if it's just a daily phone call, it will help you voice any concerns you may have, whilst enabling them to assess whether you require any assistance.
Friends and loved ones can play a crucial role in helping the elderly during winter, particularly with regards to helping them get out and about in difficult conditions. As well as ensuring their safety and assessing their health, even just a short visit can do wonders for a person's wellbeing. After all, loneliness is often the most serious threat facing the elderly.

Stay active
The winter weather may not lend itself to long walks, even just small exercises in the home can help keep your body healthy and active. Try moving around at least every hour, even if it's just a case of walking around the living room or down the hallway. If you feel you have plenty of energy, and the weather allows for it, then a walk in the fresh winter air is certainly recommended. Do, however, remember to consult your GP prior to undertaking any strenuous exercise.

What are your best tips for staying warm and healthy this winter?

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