In later life cold weather can be a bit of a worry. Our bodies react in different ways and can leaving us more susceptible to serious health problems. What can you do to keep yourself healthy, happy and safe this winter?
How can I stay healthy in winter?
Cold temperatures can raise blood pressure and increase the risk of flu and other lung-related problems. Our blood pressure takes longer to return to normal, and this can put you at greater risk of a heart attack or stroke. That’s why it’s so important to look after yourself in the winter.
Even if you don’t feel like it, staying active will not only keep you fit and healthy, it will also generate heat to keep you warm.
Hot meals and drinks help to keep you warm, so eat at least one hot meal each day and have hot drinks throughout the day. Having a hot drink before bed and keeping one in a flask by your bedside are good ideas too.
Include a good range of foods in your diet and aim for five portions of fruit and vegetables each day so you’re getting plenty of nutrients and vitamins. Remember that frozen vegetables are as good as fresh.
Keep basic food items in the cupboard or freezer in case it’s too cold to go shopping. You could also do your food shopping online and get it delivered to your house.
It’s important to eat enough, especially in winter. If you’re worried about a poor appetite, or are losing weight, speak to your GP.
Have a yearly flu jab
The flu is not only unpleasant, it can also develop into something more serious, such as pneumonia. If you’re over 65, or if you have certain health conditions the Government recommends that you get the flu jab every year. Flu viruses are constantly changing so vaccines are updated each year.
You can get a free flu jab from your GP and some pharmacies if:
Check if you’ve had the ‘pneumo’ jab
The ‘pneumo’ (or pneumococcal) jab is a one-off jab that helps protect you against pneumonia, meningitis and septicaemia (a type of blood poisoning). If you’re over 65 and haven’t had one, ask your GP.
Keep your hands clean
Good hand hygiene is a simple way to avoid getting colds or flu and stop it spreading to other people.
Protect yourself from chilblains
Chilblains are itchy red swellings that occur when your skin gets cold and you try to warm up too quickly, often by sitting close to a radiator or other heating.
Organise your medications
Keep your spirits up
It’s not unusual to feel down in winter – particularly when the days are short and it can get dark by 3.30pm. It can help to do something you enjoy every day.
How do I stay safe during winter?
Take care when driving
Be careful of slippery or wet surfaces
How can I keep myself warm?
Even if it isn’t a severe winter, cold weather makes us more susceptible to certain illnesses. Follow these tips to stay healthy and keep warm indoors and out.
Keeping warm inside
Keeping warm outside
How can I keep my home warm?
How can I heat my home efficiently?
Energy prices are high, but heating your home is easier and cheaper if it’s well insulated and your heating works properly.
Can I get any financial help with my energy bills?
Money can be a struggle at the best of times but if you’re finding it difficult to cope this winter, make sure you’re not missing out on any benefits or discounts that may be available to you!
You may be able to get extra financial help from the Energy Companies Obligation (ECO) scheme if you’re on a low income, receive certain means-tested benefits such as Pension Credit, or live in a home that would be costly and difficult to make more energy efficient. To find out whether you’re eligible, contact the Energy Saving Trust.
A majority of people born on or before 6 August 1953 are entitled to the Winter Fuel Payment in 2017-18. This can help cover the cost of heating. This is a tax-free payment of around £100 and £300 paid to you between November and December.
If you already receive Pension Credits (or certain other benefits), you will automatically be paid a Cold Weather Payment when the temperature is 0°C (32°F) or below for seven days in a row.
You may also be entitled to a Warm Home Discount on your electricity bill if you receive Pension Credit or if you’re on a low income. This is a one-off discount which is normally made between October and March.
Your local Age UK can give you a benefits check and let you know what other support you may receive.
If you’re having difficulty with paying your heating bills, Charis Grants can help direct you to grants which will help you with your utility bills.