If you’ve ever spoken to an older person about the weather, you might have heard them remark that they feel the cold more sharply than they once did.
This complaint is a common one – and it’s one of the reasons that we should be especially concerned about the effect wintry weather might have on the elderly around us. Let’s examine the ways in which people of a certain age might approach the season, to emerge on the other side of it unscathed.
To guard against the harmful effects of cold, it’s vital to keep your home at a certain, consistent temperature. What this temperature might be will vary per which room we’re talking about; bedrooms can be kept slightly cooler than living rooms since you’re going to spend your time beneath warm quilts and blankets.
To save energy, you might wish to heat the rooms of your house according to how you’re going to use them – so, a living room might be heated in the morning, and a bedroom just before you retire for the night. You’ll want to keep your window closed during the night – while a blast of cold, fresh air might seem pleasant, it’ll drain your energy bill – and it might also lead to respiratory illness.
As important as central heating is wrapping up warm. It’s best to invest in special thermal layers, which will allow you to keep warm without having your movement restricted. A few thin thermal vests will do just the same job as a single thick wooly jumper – and they’ll do so without irritating or encumbering the person wearing them.
In order to keep the heat inside your home, and thereby cut down on your energy bills and ensure that your home is as warm as you’d like it to be. Double glazing is perhaps the most popular means of improving insulation since untreated windows are notorious for their ability to leak the heat in your home out into the world.
It’s also worth insulating your cavity walls. If your home is of a certain age, it will be bordered by not one, but two walls – with the space between them known as the cavity. By injecting this space with special expanding foam, you’ll be able to enormously slash your energy expenditure. The same is true of the space in your loft. Since heat rises, most the heat energy in your home will flow up and out of your property – unless there’s a barrier there to prevent it from doing so. This barrier can be formed by loft insulation – foam-like material which packs the rafters of a home, helping to keep it as warm as possible.
Finally, there’s the plumbing to consider. The water flowing through the pipes of your home can also act as a transporting medium for heat energy. If the pipes are not properly insulated, then the water they carry will lose heat energy as it is moved from one place to another. Another unpleasant side-effect stems from the fact that water expands slightly as it approaches zero degrees – placing strain on the surrounding pipes, and in some cases causing them to burst. This can be expensive, and render your home even colder as it’s being fixed. It’s essential, therefore, to take pipe insulation seriously.
Inevitably, some of us will contract seasonal maladies over the course of the winter. But while we’re all at some risk of contracting flu and other problems, the consequences of these problems will be more keenly felt by the elderly than by adolescents. It’s important, then, that elderly people take steps to battle these problems before they occur.
By stocking up on over-the-counter medicines before the problem manifests, you’ll be in a much better position to battle it when it does. These needn’t be the most powerful drugs in the world – a simple dose of paracetamol, or a related hot drink like Lemsip might work wonders.
We should also consider the merits of vaccination. Seasonal flu isn’t just an inconvenience – it can lead to particularly serious complications. And the likelihood of such complications developing is far higher in older people. If you end up contracting pneumonia or bronchitis, then you could even die. It’s therefore worth arranging a flu jab with your GP. If you’re over 65, the vaccination is free – so be sure to take advantage and secure yourself the appropriate vaccination.
As well as securing the right medication, it’s crucial that elderly people participate in a healthy, and ideally active, lifestyle. If you’re inactive, or lacking in the right nutrients, then you’ll be at risk of contracting some sorts of wintry diseases.
Clearly, octogenarians are less likely to indulge in five-mile cross-country runs every frosty winter’s morning. But that needn’t mean that they should avoid exercise altogether – even a leisurely walk to the shop at the end of the street and back can make a difference.
Diet, however, is perhaps even more important than regular exercise when it comes to staving off winter maladies. Be sure that you’re eating regular meals throughout the day – as your immune system, like every other part of your body, will require energy if it’s to effectively protect you. You should also take care to incorporate the right amount of vitamins and minerals into your diet. These needn’t come from supplements or tablets; five portions of vegetables per day, and around two of fruit, will provide the nutritional content you need to remain healthy.
If you’re an elderly person, it’s vital you take the threat of the cold weather seriously. Fortunately, there are a few schemes you might take advantage of, including the winter fuel allowance, which is designed to ensure pensioners can properly heat their homes during winter. By taking the right steps to keep yourself and your home warm this winter, you’ll be able to enjoy the Christmas season without worrying about your health!