Don’t let the old get cold

If you have older relatives or neighbours who are over the age of 65 then make sure you know they are warm this winter. As we get older, we can become more susceptible to the cold and this can leave many people vulnerable particularly if they are also worried about the cost of heating. By keeping warm inside and outside the house, it is possible to reduce the risk of health complications associated with colder weather.

The most important thing is to check the heating system as this needs to be running effectively and efficiently. For Woking Boiler installations, visit Check that smoke alarms are working correctly and install carbon monoxide alarms if gas appliances are being used. Here are some further steps that you can take to make sure an elderly person is safe and warm when the temperature drops:

  • Check to see if they are receiving all the financial help that they are entitled to with regards to heating bills.
  • Keep some salt and sand handy to put on steps and walkways for them if it’s going to ice over.
  • Would they benefit from a grab rail at the front or rear of their property?
  • Check that they have been to have their flu jab at the GP.
  • Ask if they have medication that needs collecting or repeat prescriptions to hand in.
  • Make sure that they have basic cold remedies and supplies easily available.
  • Keep their food cupboards stocked up and offer to shop for them if needs be. Getting an online shop delivered might be easier for them.
  • Keep a torch fully charged in case of a power cut.
  • Make sure they have plenty of layers to wear, warm shoes or non-slip boots.

As well as the physical constraints of cold weather, elderly people who live alone can suffer emotional risks too. They may feel that they have become isolated from friends and the community. It is important to keep regular contact by calling in or telephoning. Even better, invite to stay with you for a while so you can make sure that they are safe and well.

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If this isn’t possible then make sure their thermostat is set to 68 degrees to prevent hypothermia and freezing pipes. Try to reduce the risks of potential falls by assessing their home and suggesting any changes that might make things easier for them to move around. If they are still driving then be sure to check they have emergency supplies in their vehicle. Snow scrapers, water, blankets, emergency flares and heating packs are all available and should be carried in a vehicle being driven in bad weather conditions. If they have a mobile phone then this should be charged and if they don’t mind letting you know when they are going out and are likely to be back, this is an extra safeguard.

Have a look around their property and check for gaps in doors and windows that might be causing drafts. Draft excluders or foam inserts can help prevent heat from escaping. If they have rooms they no longer use, then turn off the radiators and close the door. Foil placed behind radiators will reflect more heat back into the room and is a simple step that could help a great deal in keeping an elderly friend or loved one just that bit warmer this winter.