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Planning Retirement Online

Keeping warm in winter

Laterlife likes to work with the Royal Voluntary Service when it can. This great organisation enriches the lives of older people across the UK by giving time and practical help covering a whole range of activities. Its members are ordinary men and women who are willing to give an hour or two or sometimes a lot more to assist in a number of areas, from helping an older person with shopping, taking their dog for a walk or perhaps reading to people with failing eyesight. Many members of the RVS are retired or semi retired who can now find the time to give something back to the community. If you would like to know more, visit

Prepare for wintry conditions

For most people, when the clocks go back it signals the start of winter. We all know that, as the years go by, many of us feel the cold just a little more than we did in our youth. Whether we like it or not, we can also be more susceptible to illness than we were in our younger days. Also changing conditions, including of course the increased threat of power cuts this winter, means we all need to become a little more prepared than we may have been in the past.

The Royal Voluntary Service has looked at how to keep healthy and well in winter and has developed some top tips of things to consider and ways to prepare for winter. Even if you are totally fit and active, there are some good tips here and there may also be ideas you can pass on to older people you know.

Get ready for winter

  • Keep an eye on weather forecasts, particularly severe weather warnings from the Met Office.
  • Stock up on basics in case you can’t get out of your home for a couple of days.
  • Nominate a flu friend or neighbour who can collect essentials such as prescriptions on your behalf.
  • Keep a list of emergency contacts by your phone.
  • Know where your stopcock is located.
  • Make sure your pipes are adequately lagged and your roof properly insulated.

Stay safe

  • Don’t take any risks in snow or icy conditions. If you have to go out, make sure you wear shoes with a good grip.
  • Keep torches, a battery-powered radio and spare batteries where they’re easy to find in the dark in case of power cuts.
  • If you can, get a mobile phone (as it doesn't not rely on your electricity supply) and keep it charged.

Stay well

  • Have your flu jab – book your appointment now if you haven’t already done so.
  • Try to eat a balanced diet and eat small portions at regular intervals throughout the day.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • If you can, get up and move around. If your mobility is more limited, do some chair exercises to help you stay warm and active.
  • Good hand hygiene can prevent the spread of viruses.

Stay warm

  • If eligible, join the Priority Service Register of your energy distributor to ensure you receive support during prolonged power outages.
  • Have a hot drink regularly and if you find moving about difficult, have a flask handy.
  • Have your heating system checked every year and consider installing thermostatic valves on radiators in the rooms you use the most.
  • Ask about any benefits, grants and discounts you might be entitled to such as pension credits, winter fuel payments and insulation.
  • Wear warm clothes in layers.

Stay in touch

  • Make sure you know how to contact your neighbours by phone – it’s easy to lose touch in the winter months when people aren’t out and about as much.
  • Continue to go to your social activities with friends or at the local community centre. If you can’t get out for any reason, call them to let them know and ask to keep in touch by phone.

There are some good tips there from the RVS and one other we are aware of is also important – keep an eye out for your neighbours and even distant friends. If the UK heads into a freezing snap, contact anyone who you feel might be vulnerable and check they are warm and safe. It sounds so obvious, but look at any statistics and the number of people who encounter real problems because of their isolation in winter is frightening.

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