Older people get it worse in cold weather
Older people in our community are especially at risk when temperatures drop outside and unfortunately for Northern Ireland, cold weather is a regular occurrence. Many older people struggle to leave their homes when the weather is especially snowy or icy and some may struggle to pay heating bills to keep warm. 70% of our older community are reported to worry about staying warm throughout the winter season especially.
Do you care for or live near vulnerable older people?
You may wish to check up on older people that you care about or live nearby to ensure they have everything they need to get through cold spells. Here are some things you may wish to monitor, provide or suggest.
The ideal temperature is 18°C for a bedroom and 21°C for a living room. Open curtains can allow cold to radiate from windows and older style locks may let a cold draft enter through the keyhole. Always ensure windows and doors are closed tight and it’s always better to invest in a hot water bottle.
It is recommended to wear several thin layers of clothing as opposed to one heavy jumper or coat. Wool and cotton clothes are better at retaining heat. A blanket is an excellent way to keep warm whilst sitting or lying down at home. It’s also important that older people stay warm at night and they might want to wear thermals or even a woolly hat to bed.
Food & Water
Ensure that older people have enough food in the cupboards to see them through. On average, older people tend to drink less and run a higher risk of becoming dehydrated. Carbohydrates are especially important for older people when it’s colder and rice or pasta will last throughout longer cold spells as an added bonus. A surplus of canned fruit and vegetables are useful in case it gets too colder to go shopping.
You might consider gritting the front of the house in case the older person living there must leave when it’s icy outside. There should be plenty of oil, electric and/or gas to ensure the home can remain consistently warm. Items such as batteries and medicine should be stocked up on and a list of useful telephone numbers that includes loved ones, neighbours, charities and energy suppliers should be at hand in case of an emergency.
Age NI published a useful document which provides more detail on battling coldness, including useful telephone numbers, available here. Contact Age NI for more information or if you are concerned about an older person on 0808 808 7575 or firstname.lastname@example.org.